(West Milford, New Jersey, United States) – The Greek Festival at the Panagia Soumela Monastery in West Milford, NJ is scheduled to take place from August 19, 2016 to August 21, 2016. Unlike many other Greek festivals, however, this event is also a pilgrimage where the monastery opens its doors to visitors.
According to the official flyer for the event, “You are cordially invited to attend the 33rd Annual Pilgrimage and Festival of the Holy Institution Panagia Soumela in honor of the Dormition of our Most Holy Mother of Mount Mela ‘Panagia Soumela’.” The festival will be taking place in the Panagia Soumela Chapel, which is located at 253 Marshall Hill Road in West Milford, NJ at the monastery.
However, even though the event is taking place at the chapel at the monastery, it isn’t all about church. There will be food, culture activities, and entertainment, as well. On Friday, August 19, 2016 the festivities begin at 5 PM and end at 10 PM. There will be the festival portion of the event, cultural activities, and also a glendi with entertainment.
On Saturday, August 20 the festivities will go from 1 PM to 10 PM. For much of the day, there will be the festival, cultural activities, and more entertainment featuring dancing and traditional Pontian music. On Sunday, the event will go from 9 AM to 6 PM. The day starts with an Orthos Service and Divine Liturgy service and there will also be more festival activities, as well as the glendi entertainment.
According to the website, “The Holy Institution Panagia Soumela is a charitable, religious, educational and scientific non-profit corporation organized.” It is, “stablished to commit its resources to a) maintain a chapel in honor of the Holy Mother of Mount Mela (Panagia Soumela) to maintain our Greek Orthodox religious faith, and b) to properly preserve and promote the Pontian-Hellenic cultural heritage, history and Orthodoxy.” This festival event and pilgrimage is a big part of that mission.