Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
1 - 7 June 2000
Issue No. 484
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

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photo: Sherif Sonbol
TRADITIONALLY, the Holy Family is thought to have arrived in Egypt on 1 June, and tonight, 2000 years to the night, hundreds of people will gather at the church of Saint Mary in Maadi to celebrate the event, reports Rehab Saad

On the banks of the Nile a one-hour festival of music and poetry -- Blessed Be Egypt My People -- will be staged, commemorating the arrival of the Holy Family in Egypt. The church of Saint Mary was chosen as the site of the celebrations because it is popularly believed to be the place from which the Holy Family began its journey to Upper Egypt.

The celebration is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and the National Egyptian Heritage Revival Association (NEHRA), a private association that includes Coptic and Muslim intellectuals, businessmen and investors. The celebration will be attended by the Minister of Tourism, Dr Mamdouh El-Beltagui and Pope Shenouda III, alongside church leaders from all over the world.

The audience will watch the water-borne spectacle from raked seating constructed in the church yard. Reconstructions of the places the Holy Family is believed to have visited have been built on two barges, while lasers, water screens and fireworks illuminating feluccas sailing on the Nile are incorporated into the production.

"We are celebrating the completion of the first phase of the project to commemorate the route of the Holy Family on their flight into Egypt. I believe this new project will be of great significance," said El-Beltagui.

The performance, conceived by Mohamed Salmawy and directed by Mohamed Nouh, contains music by Hani Shenouda and other composers, and texts by Salah Fayez and Dr Kamal Farid. Tomorrow, a second performance will be open to the public. Tickets range from LE75 to LE500.

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