Opet - Ancient Egyptian Opet Festival

Amun and Mut
Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Opet Festival, also known as the Beautiful Feast of Opet, or the Festival of Opet, was an annual festival that took place in Thebes in Ancient Egypt. It was celebrated during the New Kingdom period, and also later in time. The Festival of Opet centered on the god of the Theban Triad, Amun, and his wife and divine consort, Mut, and their child Khonsu. During the festival, the statues of these gods were carried in a jubilant procession.

Typically, the statues of Amun and Mut were housed separately. However, the conception of their child, Khonsu, who was much celebrated, would have been impossible had the gods always been separated. So, as a type of martial celebration, as well as a celebration for the birth of Khonsu, once a year the statues of Amun and Mut were brought together for a reunion of sorts, or opet. Together, the statues were taken on a long processional trip. The procession was attended by many and was accompanied by free food and drink.

The Opet Festival was generally celebrated in the second month of Akhet, which was in the first season of the Egyptian Calendar. This season was also referred to as the Season of Inundation, and was associated with the flooding of the Nile River. Rebirth is a very strong theme of the Festival of the Opet. Typically, a re-coronation ceremony of the pharaoh occurs.

The Procession

The statues of Amun and Mut were escorted from their initial starting point at the temple of Amun in Karnak all the way to the temple of Luxor.

The statues were not on public display however. Instead, they were hidden from sight in sacred ships while they were transported. The total distance traveled from the temple of Amun to the temple of Luxor was over a mile. After the statues’ appearance to the public, they remained in the temple of Luxor for about three weeks’ time.

During the period that the statues were in the temple of Luxor, the city of Thebes remained in a state of festival. Such festivals prevented a unique and exciting opportunity to the common people of Egypt, who otherwise did not see or interact with members of the divine.

According to the Digital Karnak, a wide variety of individuals participated in the Festival of the Opet:

Depictions of bark processions suggest that a variety of types of people directly participated in the parade. Troops of soldiers, priests, dancers, musicians, and singers are all shown on tomb or temple reliefs as part of the cortege. The addition of music - rhythmic clapping, the rattling of sistra (a percussion instrument that sounds when shaken), and chanting or singing - must have heightened the experience for both the viewer and the participants.”

After their weeks long stay at the temple of Luxor, the statues were returned to the temple of Amun in Karnak. The same route was followed in returning the statues to Karnak in a second public appearance. The return trip signified the end of the festival.

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Gill, N.S. "Opet - Ancient Egyptian Opet Festival." ThoughtCo, Dec. 20, 2015, thoughtco.com/opet-ancient-egyptian-festival-118136. Gill, N.S. (2015, December 20). Opet - Ancient Egyptian Opet Festival. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/opet-ancient-egyptian-festival-118136 Gill, N.S. "Opet - Ancient Egyptian Opet Festival." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/opet-ancient-egyptian-festival-118136 (accessed November 20, 2017).