Feast of Kataklysmos

Kataklysmos, Feast of (Festival of the Flood)

Between May 10 and June 13; coincides with Christian Pentecost
This religious and popular festival is celebrated only on Cyprus, with its roots in both the Bible and Greek mythology. The Greek word kataklysmos, meaning "flood," refers to the Bible's story in the book of Genesis, and a Greek creation story.
In Genesis 6:5-9:1, God decided all humankind was corrupt and that he would bring a flood to destroy all life—except for Noah, his wife, their sons and their sons' wives, and male and female specimens of every beast and fowl. Noah built an ark for this menagerie, and they all lived on it while it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, eventually landing, it is thought, on Mt. Ararat. ( See also Ashura.) When the flood ended, God told Noah and his family to be fruitful and replenish the earth.
In the Greek story, Zeus decided to destroy the earth because of human wickedness. Floods covered the earth, leaving only a spot of dry land on top of Mt. Parnassus. After it had rained nine days and nine nights, a great wooden chest drifted to the spot. Within it were Deucalion, the son of Prometheus, and his wife Pyrrha. Prometheus, knowing the flood was coming, had told his son to build the chest and embark in it.
Coming down from the mountain into a dead world, Deucalion and Pyrrha heard a voice telling them to "cast behind you the bones of your mother." They realized the earth was the mother, and stones her bones. They began to throw the stones, and the stones took human shape. They were called Stone People, and rescued the earth from desolation.
Biblical scholars have suggested that the flood described in Genesis is based on the one from ancient Mesopotamian literature, especially in the Gilgamesh Epic, whose hero is called Ut-Napishtim. In this story, the gods bring on the flood because mankind is so noisy they cannot sleep. After the flood, Ut-Napishtim is made a god.
The Kataklysmos festivities, held in seaside towns, usually last from Saturday through Monday. They include games, folk dancing, boat races, swimming competitions, feasting, and the singing of tchattista, improvised verses sung in competition. Everyone joins in throwing water at each other, which symbolizes the purification of body and soul. Larnaca is especially known for its celebration of Kataklysmos, and other festivals are held in Limassol, Paphos, Polis, Agia Napa, and Paralimni.
CONTACTS:
Cyprus Tourism Organization
13 E. 40th St.
New York, NY 10016
212-683-5280; fax: 212-683-5282
www.visitcyprus.com
SOURCES:
BkHolWrld-1986, Jun 8
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 386
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 86