Hundreds of Greek Cypriots gathered near the abandoned parts of the Cypriot city of Famagusta (Ammochostos in Greek) in northern Cyprus on Sunday, to celebrate Epiphany for a reported fourth time since the Turkish military invasion and de facto occupation of the city.
For Tasos Hatzilefteris, one of the swimmers diving to catch the cross as per Orthodox tradition on that day, «emotions are... Еще intense.»
«I am very moved,» Tasos continued. «The sea of Famagusta is a piece of ourselves just like our city, and we hope that next year we can celebrate Epiphany, liberated, in exactly the same spot,» he said.
Priests and believers gathered on the shore and held a liturgy to mark the religious events. Afterwards, religious leaders threw a cross into the sea, a traditional rite performed on Epiphany in Orthodox countries to symbolise the baptism of Jesus.
The southern suburb of Famagusta, Varosha, has been fenced off and a large part of the city has stood abandoned ever since 1974, when a failed Greek-inspired coup in the country prompted a Turkish military invasion and the de facto self-declaration of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
This year marks the fourth time the city has celebrated the Orthodox ritual since the last Epiphany held in undivided Famagusta in 1974.