Nicosia, January 6, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
Epiphany celebrations took place on Wednesday in the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta for the first time since the Turkish invasion against Cyprus in 1974.
Pilgrims from all over the island attended the liturgy of Epiphany in the St George Church (Agios Georgios Exorinos) which lies within the walls of the old city of occupied Famagusta.
They then proceeded to the `Glossa` beach where the blessing of the waters took place, a ceremony that includes diving to retrieve the Holy Cross which the priest throws in the water, according to the Greek Orthodox tradition.
In statements to CNA, head of the `Famagusta Our Town` initiative, Pavlos Iacovou, said that around 1,200 pilgrims attended the celebrations.
“We were deeply moved being there after 42 years. But unfortunately we had to return (to the government controlled areas). We wish that 2016 becomes the year we finally return to our homes”, Iacovou said.
Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in the summer of 1974. The Turkish military still occupies 37% of the EU Mediterranean island`s territory. UN-led talks are underway in a bid to reunify the island under a federal roof.