Thursday, December 17, 2015

Small Shrines (Proskinitaria)

When visiting an Orthodox country, especially from the West, one comes across a number of different things, buildings, customs, traditions etc. The Hellenic Orthodox world promotes the idea of a domed church, a reality which is also being continued and established when Orthodox faithful build new churches in the West.

One unique feature found in an Orthodox country, and in this case a reality found in Greece and Cyprus is the shrine, known in Greek as proskinitari (προσκυνητάρι), to be found on the side of a street, on the pavement, either in a busy area, in the villages or the cities, even in gardens. There are many different kinds of shrines, depending on the material used, on how expensive and elaborate one wishes to make it.

They are placed there for a number of reasons. They might indicate the faithfulness of the person who built it. It can also show that at that certain place a good or even a bad event took place. Normally, in many countries we see that when an accident occurs or a murder or a very bad event in general takes place, then flowers are placed in that place. In the Hellenic world, a shrine is built, giving thus a religious aspect, showing the importance of prayer towards God. If you’re even in Greece or Cyprus, look for them, and see the varied shrines which exist all over both countries.

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