Just when we thought that the festival season of Cyprus was drawing to a close, the municipality of Paphos host a festival to the traditional way of life but with a difference!

Paphos is setting the example for a united society, in these days of unrest and plenty of negative press on immigration the four municipalities of Paphos have united to shine the light on the benefits of a society that works together celebrating commonalities instead of highlighting differences.

In the framework of its participation in the Together Open Society program for the integration of third country nationals in the local community, the Municipality of Paphos organised an event of Cypriot Entertainment. The event took place on Friday 23rd November 2018 in cooperation with the Paphos and Muttall Adult centers and held at the Palaia Elekricka Cultural Village.

 

The event was organised on the completion of the Cypriot cuisine courses which took place within the framework of the programme, aiming to show the participants knowledge gained by preparing traditional Cypriot foods and sweets, the grand finale was the event itself whereby these prepared delicacies were offered to visitors. The programme and also included a set of traditional dances after all this was a celebration of Cypriot Entertainment and as with many traditional events music and food are intertwined. Mayor of Geroskipou Michalis Pavlides summed up the importance of events such as these:

“The program “Together! Open Society” reflects the vision of the Municipality and our partners in the Pafos province for a society of acceptance and mutual respect. We want our citizens and immigrants to coexist, communicate and make their lives better. The Pafos province hosts refugees and asylum seekers seeking safety. It welcomes immigrants who come to Cyprus with our consent for livelihood reasons or because they choose our island for a permanent stay. We build a more pluralistic society who accepts people from different countries and cultures without discriminations.”

Cyprus is a country that is no stranger to immigration, it has forever added to the richness of her culture. Food, music and language are just some of the key areas where the integration of other ethnicities and religions have played their part in developing what is known today as Cypriot culture. Although Cypriot is technically not its own and not classified as an official language, it represents the evolution of different dialects brought to the island by ancestors of the many of communities that have lived on the island for centuries. Cypriot Arabic is the language that many of the Maronites still use today, Armenian Cypriot, differs from Armenian, the Turkish spoken by the Turkish Cypriot community also differs from that of mainland Turkey and Cypriot Greek differs from the dialects spoken on mainland Greece and well as from all the different islands. Not only are have all these ‘mother’ tongues developed a certain Cypriot-ness but many of these dialects have inherited language straits from one another. British presents on the island has a matter of fact even influenced Cypriot Greek and many loanwords have been a adapted from the original English to sounds more Cypriot a perfect example would be Tsaira believe it or not the origin word is Chair, ‘Ts’ represent ‘Ch’ sound, thus once you replace the converted letters it is much easier to see the resemblance from Chaira to Chair, the ‘a’ was added as  there are not many words that end in a consonant within the Cypriot dialect. Social integration isn’t something new especially to Cyprus, we have just been suffering from amnesia.

Paphos has seen major changes in the past few decades, these changes have brought communication with other countries in and outside Europe and these changes were fast-forwarded when Paphos became the European Capital of Culture in 2017.  According to Towards an Open Society’s website there are approximately 6,500 third country nationals (TCNs) legally living and working in the entire Paphos district. Many immigrants of ethnic and religious backgrounds now call Paphos home and they have the same obligations and rights as all citizens.

The four Paphos Municipalities of Geroskipou, Paphos, Pegia and Polis Chrysochous became partners for a common cause and in the implementation of the programme “Together! Towards an Open Society!” which continues to integrate Third country nationals to create harmonious coexistence and interaction between local citizens, or one could say with former immigrants, I for one can assuredly say, having had a DNA test, that I am not 100% Cypriot or any other ethnic group, but I too like most of the population of Earth am not 100% of any ethnicity.

Events such as these help us all to find the communal love and respect, we share with one another regardless of ethnic background and being a British citizen of a Cypriot background enables the celebration and union of two cultures, which has only been an advantage and thus people from different backgrounds should have the opportunity to safely contribute to society.

 

Credit: Municipality of Paphos | http://www.inclusiontogether.com

Photo Credit: (1) Together Open Society ‘Celebrate Cypriot’ Programme poster (2) Kiki Perikleous – Cyprus News Agency (3) Cypriot dancers performing for the programme participants @togetheropensociety  (4) Participants showcased some of the food from their respective countries – @togetheropensociety (5) Excursion to Petra Tou Romiou – Aphrodite’s Rock – @togetheropensociety

 

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