Unknown prayer in Athens

Unknown prayer in Athens
Greece
We are at the temple where Ethiopian immigrants in Athens make their pray every Sunday morning. What mainly distinguishes the Ethiopian Christians is their deep religious sense and their spiritual education. The absolute silence in the packed church, the deep concentration for hours,the internal prayers betrayed by the soundless shaking lip electrify the atmosphere and command respect even from the most skeptical observer.

Every person at these photos is an immigrant or a refugee. Their places of worship in urban Athens, some of them half-hidden, are underground or abandoned warehouses, an old orthodox temple, an old small theater but also outdoor public spaces, squares and courtyards. Choosed twelve indoor  photos. Till now the nationalities that are involved in this invisible network within the city are Pakistani Shiites, Indians Sikh, Eritrean Coptic Christians, Ethiopian Coptic Christians, Pentecostals Christians from Nigeria and Catholics from various African origins.

Coptic Christians immigrants from Eritrea to Greece gather every Sunday in an underground basement that accommodates 60-70 people. With devotion pray according their deep religious sense and their spiritual education.

It was quite difficult to reach the places of worship of the immigrants. Made a research and  tried spontaneously on my own , also through friends, acquaintances, and through workshops. Even if i managed to find out where there are these places some people looked at me suspiciously. Some of the immigrants had a very good relationship with photography cause of their culture. Others don’t so I had to go a few times to gain their trust. I visited some places once or twice but others more times and made friends through this project. Till today trying to give printed copies of their photos almost to every community.

Immigrants through religious worship strive to gain strength, to be guided, to survive but also to keep alive memories from their homeland. Memories help them literally and metaphorically struggle to survive away from their homeland.

At that photo the entire community of Coptic Christians immigrants from Eritrea to Greece, a few hundred people are celebrating Meskel in a central square in downtown Athens. Meskel is an annual religious holiday of the Eritrean Orthodox churches, which commemorates the discovery of the Holy Cross.

All these places are unified by mystery, emotion, religious ecstasy and a unique aura. Even if they(we) don’t know each other cause of the many different cultures the photography view can bring together these people and us. Even if all of us we are from diverse origins and backgrounds. The project lasts from 2017 and is a work in progress with the collaboration of these communities members themselves and with the utmost respect for their identities…

The most remarkable place I have been so far is an old theater which has been renovated and is packed every Sunday in winter from African Pentecostal Christians. Most of them from Nigeria. An incredible combination of smiling and religious ecstasy. It was the most vivid part of my exploration so far. There was movement, dance, song, a band with synthesizer and drums, psalms, Bible recitations and a sermon by a preacher.
Father Germain is a young Catholic preacher of the African Catholic community at the downtown center of Athens
A Pakistani Shiite boy praying at an underground abandoned warehouse.
Shiite muslim immigrant from Pakistan praying . That day i had arranged to visit the basement that serves as a place of worship. I knew that would have come many believers. But because of the bad weather there were few. Ultimately this helped me a lot photographically to integrate the physical presence in the space.
I have visited many times the old warehouse used by Sikh immigrants as the center and temple of their community in Athens. There is always food for everyone and everyone is welcome. Their culture makes them receptive to photography, and that makes me happy.
I stayed with this old man for quite some time inside Sikhs temple. Their culture makes them receptive to photography, and that makes me happy. He was on the first floor of the building, an old warehouse. He was helping prepare the food. We talked for a while. Then I followed him to the second floor where he went to pray. I noticed the afternoon light and tried to get close to him. He wasn’t bothered by my presence at all.
In Sikhs tradition when someone comes to pray at the end of the ceremony he will eat food prepared by themselves. This is the 1st floor of an old warehouse used as a kitchen. At the kitchen and the diner there are always volunteers who will cook, clean, wash and serve the people coming. The women preparing traditional bread, called chiapati..
The most remarkable place I have been so far is an old theater which has been renovated and is packed every Sunday in winter from African Pentecostal Christians. Most of them from Nigeria. An incredible combination of smiling and religious ecstasy. It was the most vivid part of my exploration so far. There was movement, dance, song, a band with synthesizer and drums, psalms, Bible recitations and a sermon by a preacher.
A lonely man from Nigeria praying at the Catholic church of St Theresia.
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