Dionysia ta astika Festival

From the 9th to 16th March , the Hellenic Dionysia ta astika festival is observed.

The Dionysia ta astika is a festival dedicated to the god Dionysus.

Around 500-600 BC the cult of Dionysus was introduced to Athens from Eleutherai a border town of Attica (Athens) and Boeotia (Central Greece).  The myth surrounding this cult follows an Etheutherai man bringing the practice to Athens and it being rejected.  As retribution Dionysus sent a disease which infected Athenian men’s genitals.  To combat this situation the oracle at Delphi instructed the Athenians to hold a procession in honor of Dionysus with the symbol of a phallus prominently displayed.  Since the disease seems to have stopped this procession became a yearly observance.

This is an auspicious time to indulge in the performing arts – attend the theater or similar artistic performance such as a play.

Offer wine and flowers.

Here is a hymn to Dionysus which you can use as an offering prayer on the day:

Homeric Hymn 1 to Dionysus

For some say, at Dracanum; and some, on windy Icarus; and some, in Naxos, O Heaven-born, Insewn; and others by the deep-eddying river Alpheus that pregnant Semele bare you to Zeus the thunder-lover. And others yet, lord, say you were born in Thebes; but all these lie. The Father of men and gods gave you birth remote from men and secretly from white-armed Hera. There is a certain Nysa, a mountain most high and richly grown with woods, far off in Phoenice, near the streams of Aegyptus“and men will lay up for her many offerings in her shrines. And as these things are three, so shall mortals ever sacrifice perfect hecatombs to you at your feasts each three years.”

The Son of Cronos spoke and nodded with his dark brows. And the divine locks of the king flowed forward from his immortal head, and he made great Olympus reel. So spake wise Zeus and ordained it with a nod.

Be favorable, O Insewn, Inspirer of frenzied women! we singers sing of you as we begin and as we end a strain, and none forgetting you may call holy song to mind. And so, farewell, Dionysus, Insewn, with your mother Semele whom men call Thyone.

Hail, child of fair-faced Semele! He who forgets you can in no wise order sweet song.

(C) T. Georgitsis 2017

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One comment on “Dionysia ta astika Festival

  1. Thank you for announcing this festival for the Great Liberator Dionysus, God of ecstatic love, joy & wine. His festivals are not well known as other Deities. May “he who releases” free us from our routine lives, worries & sadness, as we celebrate his presence among us.

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