The Religious Fete in Honor of Konstantinos and Eleni at Komiaki
A landscape of riotously grown plane trees, flowing springs and small vegetable groves and vineyards growing supported by dry-stone walls is the scenery housing the village of Komiaki in Naxos built in amphitheatric fashion at 550 above sea level overlooking the Icarian Sea. The village had 2,000 inhabitants in the past but nowadays, it only counts 500.
The precious little religious fete (panigyri) in the honor of the two saints is celebrated in front of two one-aisled vaulted small churches, built one next to the other. The church with an orientation at the north is dedicated to Zoodochos Pigi (Virgin Mary, the Live-giving Spring) and the one with an orientation at the south to Agios Konstantinos and Agia Eleni. The religious festival is held at just 2 km away from the village, on the side of the rural road, on a clearing resembling to a village square that is protected under the leafage of four gigantic plane trees.
I arrived early in the morning since I was eager to witness the entire food preparation process.
Offered by families, four lambs were delivered on site already chopped into pieces and were handed over to the cook and his assistants. The entire quantity of the meat -70 kg- was placed in a large shallow cauldron where it was left to simmer in the juices it exuded without adding any water at all. For about two hours, the stew was being stirred using a wooden rod made of asphodel. Then, it was time to add the tomato, the onions, the garlic, salt and pepper. When the stew had been brought to a second boil, the lamb and the sauce were removed from the cauldron. This time, pasta was placed in the cauldron. As kyr Vasilis (kyr, added before the name of an old men, is a way to salute or address him in a respectful manner, an informal word), the cook, said, the spaghetti type to use must necessarily be “Stella no. 6” (Stella is the name of a famous Greek pasta making plant and no.6 corresponds to thick spaghetti). Later on, the spaghetti was drained and poured into the sauce. At about 11:00 food was ready!
The Divine Liturgy was executed in due course, bread was blessed, and once the service came to end, people scattered around the plane trees to found a place to sit, eat and start celebrating.
In just 10 minutes, tens of volunteers, men, women and children working full tilt, served everyone the spaghetti topped with zoula (lamb). When everyone had finished eating, the fete and the singing began; bagpipes, tambour, violins and lutes had stirred the audience up.
- AddressKomiaki, Naxos