After the great success of the Golden Parade of the Pharaohs held in Cairo on April 3, preparations are underway for another major pharaoh-themed event that will bring the world’s attention to Egypt, this time in Luxor.
The development and restoration of the Great Processional Way (El-Kebash Road) is nearing completion and a big celebration is planned for its reopening.
“The festival will take place in the last quarter of this year,” Mustafa El-Saghir, director of the Karnak temples and general supervisor of the Grand Processional Way project, told Al-Monitor. He explained that the 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) of what is often referred to as “Avenue of the Sphinxes” has many other types of statues among its 1,200 statues, including many ram features.
Construction of the Great Processional Way began during the New Kingdom (1550 BC-1077 BC).
The project is not just about the road and its statues, El-Saghir said. Other discoveries were made between 2006-2011 and will be open to the public for the first time after the festival.
“The route also features recently discovered flower boxes between pairs of statues dating from the New Kingdom era. There are also wine presses dating back to Roman times, ”he added.
He noted that there are also pottery, amulet and ornament making sites along the route. “All these discoveries explain the economic and social life of the inhabitants of Thebes at that time,” he said.
“The history of excavation work on the Great Processional Way began in 1949, when Egyptian archaeologist Zakaria Ghoneim unearthed the first eight ram-headed statues. Over the years it was followed by other Egyptian archaeologists who discovered the remains of the road, ”he said.
The upcoming event, El-Saghir added, will rekindle the celebration of Opet Day. It was one of the famous and important festivals of ancient Egypt. It is dedicated to Amun and is celebrated during the Coptic month of Paopi, when the harvest season ends, between October 11 and November 10.
“The Opet festival was organized to honor the local trinity of Thebes: Amon-Re with his wife, the goddess Mut and their son Khonsu. During this festival, there was a procession from the temple of Karnak. Three statues representing these gods were placed in golden boats and carried by priests along the great processional way to the temple of Luxor and back, ”he declared.
The temple of Karnak, on the eastern bank of Luxor, was the place of worship of Amun, god of Thebes. It was at the Luxor temple, three kilometers south of Karnak, that he married Mut.
“During the upcoming celebration, the people representing the priests will carry the statue of Amun from the temple of Karnak, that of Mut from his temple and that of Khunsu on sacred boats, just as the ancient Egyptians did,” a- he said, adding that the lighting, the pharaonic attire, the music will add excitement to the modern festival.
He pointed out that the rituals of the Opet festival are detailed in the Luxor temple, adding: “The inscriptions also reveal many features of this festival such as music, dancing, military marches, the presentation of offerings and equestrian shows.
On July 6, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly inspected the last works of the Great Processional Way. He said the project is among the most important antiquities projects Egypt is currently working on and aims to make Luxor the largest open museum in the world by connecting Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, Temple de Mout along the Great Processional Way. .
Magdy Shaker, chief archaeologist at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told Al-Monitor: “I think the opening ceremony of El-Kebash Road and the resumption of the Opet festival rituals will surpass the success of the Golden Parade of the Pharaohs. because it is based on an ancient Egyptian ritual and not just on a new idea for transporting mummies.
He pointed out that Luxorians themselves always include elements of the Pharaonic Opet festival in their celebration of Abul Haggag’s birthday, which falls in the middle of Shaban in the Islamic calendar, two weeks before Ramadan.
Abul Hagag was a 13th century Sufi Sheikh. The Fatimid era mosque that bears his name and marks his final resting place was built in the Temple of Luxor.
Shaker said: “In the Abul Haggag mold, the parade begins at the Luxor Temple, where its mosque is located, and runs through the streets of Luxor. The grandsons of Abul Haggag and other sheikhs carry decorated boats and lead the parade, a ritual in which all Luxorians and neighboring towns participate. The boat signifies spiritual enlightenment.
“The three-day festival is always attended by the governor,” he said. “Among other activities there are horse shows, music, tahtib martial art and zikr dance troupes performing in tents along the route as well as reciting duas and dancing. other religious songs, ”he added.