• Short Summary

    A strange religious rite, which has its roots far back in the Dionysian mysteries of ancient Greece, has been observed uninterrupted down through the ages -- and, until recently, in the utmost secrecy -- by succeeding generations of the tiny, isolated community of Langada.

  • Description

    A strange religious rite, which has its roots far back in the Dionysian mysteries of ancient Greece, has been observed uninterrupted down through the ages -- and, until recently, in the utmost secrecy -- by succeeding generations of the tiny, isolated community of Langada.

    It is orgiastic rite of the Anastenaria, which is now performed publicly every year on Saint Constantine and Helen's Day in Langada and three other villages in the northern province of Macedonia.

    It consists of an elaborate ritual lasting for three days and highlighted by a frenzied dance, during which initiates, holding an ikon of Saint Constantine, walk barefooted over a bed of live charcoal embers. The performers are none the worse for the performance.

    The ritual is performed to the accompaniment of weird music provided by lyre and drum beating out a barbaric rhythm. The extraordinary thing is that the feet of the walkers - even the tiniest hair - remains untouched by the embers, which are scorching hot.

    The name Anastenaria, by which the members of the sect are known, means "groaners' in colloquial Greek. They are termed thus presumably because when they are reaching the climax of the ritual orgy they groan "ikkh", "ikkh," "akkh," "akkh," -- a variation of "iakkhos" and "vakkhos," the blood-curdling invocation of the ancient Bacchante which we know about from the great Greek comedios and tragedies.

    Scientist, in trying to explain the Anastenaria, have advance the theory that when the fire walkers work themselves into a frenzy, their bodies elude psychic radioactive waves which act as an insulator which prevents them being burned. These people themselves, simple people of the land, have their own explanation: Our patron Saint protects us." they say.

    Langada is about 15 miles out of Salonika, at the head of the Aegean Sea, and it was the mecca of thousands of people who had come out to witness these strange rites of over 3000 years ago.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA5S2VWZ0S13ELUPXBK4GT3AJVL
    Media URN:
    VLVA5S2VWZ0S13ELUPXBK4GT3AJVL
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    22/05/1958
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:02:13:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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