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Open air prayers on Kefalonia

- by Liz Waugh

Open air prayers on Kefalonia.

A strange sight for anyone on a late holiday break in Kefalonia would be a large group of muslims at prayer in the middle of an open field.

But Pakistanis living in Kefalonia were forced out in the open when Kefalonia municipal authorities refused a request to provide a place to pray at the annual religious bairam festival recently.

There are about 150 Pakistani immigrants living and working on the holiday island of Kefalonia. Pakistanis have been granted rooms in which to celebrate the religious bairam festival in places like Athens and Thessaloniki, so they thought it was just a formality for them to be given a civic room on Kefalonia.

But when Kefalonia local authorities said 'no' they were forced to hold the prayer ceremony in an open field.

The bairam was one of two religious bairam festivals celebrated by each year muslims.
The lesser bairam is celebrated at the end of ramadan, at roughly the same time as the christian easter festival; this was the greater bairam, also called the 'feast of the sacrifices' which is celebrated 70 days later.

Pakistanis on Kefalonia are annoyed at the rejection as they are all legal residents of Kefalonia, have houses, pay island taxes and can vote in local elections.

The outdoor prayer meeting on Kefalonia was followed by a celebration and sharing characteristic highly coloured rice-sweets.