Coptic Orthodox Christians celebrate Virgin Mary
(22 Aug 2016) LEAD IN:
Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians are in the midst of annual celebrations of the Virgin Mary, which runs for 15 days from 6 August.
At Saint Mary's Church of Mostorod in Qalyubia, worshippers gather for prayer, singing and commemorative tattoos.
Orthodox Christians throng in the streets outside Saint Mary's Church of Mostorod, amid one of their major annual festivals.
The two-week celebration of the Virgin Mary is more than a 'moulid' (celebration of a Saint's birthday), as the Coptic Orthodox Bishop for the Diocese of Shoubra El-Kheima explains.
"We can't call it 'moulid' because 'moulid' is when we celebrate only a (Saint's) birth."
"While (with this festival) we are celebrating the birth of the Virgin Mary, her death and her Assumption. Generally speaking, we prefer to call it a 'celebration'," says Bishop Marcos.
Thousands of worshippers gather at this church every year.
"We come here on Saint Mary's (feast) to have the Virgin Mary's blessings from her Church in Mostorod. We come here every year at the same time in August," says churchgoer Marina.
Along with prayer and feasting, commemorative tattoos are also a key part of the festivities.
People queue outside the church to get inked with portraits of the Virgin Mary.
Away from the bustle outside, however, devotees light candles and chant prayers.
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