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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Του Πόντου Παναγιά
(Tou Pontou Panayia)

(The Virgin Mary of Pontus)

 

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Tou Pontou Panayia" (Του Πόντου Παναγιά), which was sung by Themis Adamantidis. Also included is a pronunciation guide for the Greek lyrics so you can sing along if you like.

For more information about the laiko and rebetiko styles of music, see Introduction to Laiko / Rebetiko Music elsewhere on this web site.

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

About Pontus

This song is about Pontus, a region within modern-day Turkey that lies on the south side of the Black Sea. Since ancient times, Pontus covered a large mountainous region, and possessed great wealth, including silver mining. The Turkish people call this region Karadeniz.

Historically, Pontus consisted of a primarily Hellenic (Greek) population, although some other ethnic groups lived there as well. Due to invasion in the 17th century, this primarily Greek region became part of the Ottoman empire and remained part of it until the fall of the Ottoman regime after World War I. The overthrow of the empire led to the forced mass exodus of millions of Anatolian Greeks and other Christians.

To this day, there are many crypto Christian Pontians. If you visit the region, you will encounter many who still speak the Pontian Anatolian Greek language!

About this Song

The title of this song, "Tou Pontou Panayia", translates to "The Virgin Mary of Pontus", and refers to a landmark which is a historic monastery in Pontus that hangs off mountainous rocks. It's also known as Panayia Soumela Monastery (Ποτάμι Μονή Παναγία Σουμελα). It has resided on the mountains for at least 16 centuries. The Greeks called the surrounding region Trapezounda (Τραπεζούντα), which was renamed by the new Turkish state in the 1930s as Trabzon (Τραμπζον).

This song is not in the Pontian Anatolian Greek language; however, it is entirely about Pontus, and it includes the kemence (Pontian lyre) instrument throughout. Many, many Pontian songs, both old classics and modern pieces, refer to Panayia Soumela.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: This photo shows an aerial view of the ancient Monastery Panayia Soumela in Pontus which was built in the 4th century. Click the photo to see more detail.

About Panayia Soumela in Pontus

Ever since the tragic forced mass exodus of my Pontian people in the early 1900's, Panayia Soumela has remained closed. In 2010, for the first time in our modern current age, it reopened.

Generally, every August 15th, which is the celebration day of the Virgin Mary, hundreds and hundreds of Pontians and other Greeks flock to Pontus to visit. They go not only for the monastery, but also to locate and catch a glimpse of the homes that once belonged to their grandparents and great grandparents.

People named Panayiota (Παναγιώτα) or Panayioti (Παναγιώτης) are given this name from Panayia, the Virgin Mary. Those named Eleni (Ελένη), Despina (Δέσποινα), Maria (Μαρία) and Simela (Σιμέλα) also celebrate on the 15th of August. It is a huge celebration. Although the monastery had reopened for conducting church services, eventually the Turkish government denied those again. They said the reason was because of safety concerns and remodeling needed.

However, this did not fit with what was to follow. I know of personal stories from family friends that when Pontians visited another year, they decided to light their candles and chant their prayers outside of the monastery. They were not close enough to be at risk of any possible safety problems with the structure.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: These icons (sacred paintings) are on the interior of the ancient Monastery Panayia Soumela in Pontus.

Turkish authorities and other local guides in the area disapproved. Consequently, they were seen on video which was shown on Greek television grabbing the candles from the Greeks and trying to shush them from chanting on the holy day. Although there are religious rights given to other Christian worshipers throughout Turkey, for some reason there is more sensitivity applied to the Pontian region, known today as Karadeniz (which means Black Sea). I really wanted to go to the festival that year, but I was too afraid. There are good Turkish people of course, but even today there remain anti-Greek extremists. This is a fact.

In 2019, the Turkish authorities made headlines when they stated they will do whatever is necessary to repossess Greek artifacts that refugees took with them from Soumela Monastery. The original historic icon of Panayia Soumela now resides in northern Greece, where in the 1950's the Pontian people ended up building a new massive monastery also called Panayia Soumela.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: This historic icon of Panayia Soumela (the Virgin Mary) originally stood inside Panayia Soumela Monastery in Pontus. At the time of the Greek genocide in Turkey, refugees from Pontus took this icon with them to Greece. Today, it stands in a monastery in northern Greece built in the 1950's. This photo is from the personal archive of Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, which she photographed when viewing the icon in person. On the table with the icon is a small rocker, similar to a baby's cradle. Many women make pilgrimage there to touch the rocker and gently swing it a few times, seeking blessings to get pregnant. Click on the photo to see more detail.

Souvenirs of Monastery Visits

Every monastery has a gift shop, and they also set up vending tables at paniyiria. One of the items people can buy from them are bracelets similar to the ones in this photo, which are called koboskinia (κομποσκοίνια). The singular is koboskini (κομποσκοίνι). The koboskini is the Greek counterpart to Catholic rosary beads. It's thin, made with tiny knots and finished off with a cross.

The term koboskini can also refer to a necklace version, which our monks use with prayer. This necklace version is usually associated with monasteries, and isn't something most lay people would wear — although some do.

Years ago, I wore a koboskini that wasn't particularly good quality. After I showered, the color would bleed out and stain my sheets. My relatives would freak out because we didn't know where this stain came from. Could it be some insect? A year later we discovered it was from the koboskini!

Koboskinia used to be thick and bulky, and would stretch out. Over the years, our monasteries improved on the quality and craft of making them.

Many Greek Orthodox followers, even if they don't set foot in our churches, always wear koboskinia as a custom. Both men and women wear them. We either purchase them when we visit a monastery or attend a paniyiri, or receive them as gifts from someone who did. Many people even wear more than ten of them on their wrist at a time, each one from a different monastery!

When I do a dance performance for non-Greeks, I'm sometimes asked why I'm wearing a hair tie on my wrist with my costume. I explain that it's not a hair tie, and that typically we never take this off.

In the U.S., people are expected to remove all items before surgery and other medical procedures. In contrast, in Greece, we are not required to remove these even for such medical situations.

Many younger Greeks prefer to wear koboskinia instead of wearing crosses around their necks.

One of my koboskinia was purchased at Soumela monastery in northern Greece. There, many vendors have set up their tables outdoors in front of the church entrance, selling many religious and cultural items.

About Themis Adamantidis

Themis Adamantidis is the stage name for Efthimios Themis Adamantidis. He is a renowned laiko singer who is very proud of his Pontian heritage, and quite often sings Pontian songs as part of his concerts.

Adamantidis was born in Athens. He began to take an interest in singing at age 14. His early influences were the music of Stelios Kazantzidis and Giannis Parios.

Young Adamantidis began singing with several prominent Greek vocalists, including Spiros Kalfopoulos, Anna Chrisafi, and Rena Eskenazi. They mentored him to help him launch his career. His big breakthrough came when he won a television talent competition called "Na ee Efkeria”. This show hosted by ERT, the Greek national public television station, was on the air from 1977 to 1983.

Panayiota, the translator, offers her personal thoughts about Adamantidis as follows:

Themis Adamantidis, in my opinion, is one of the greatest artists of our time. He is of Pontian (Greek Anatolian / Black Sea) descent and rose to fame as a young artist. I had the honor of performing at one of the nightclubs he was singing at in the late 1990s, in Greece. He was friends with my uncle Mimi, having met while working together on ships. Themis was able to take time off from work to enter the “Na i Efkaria” competition.

Themis Adamantidis

Song: Tou Pontou Panayia (The Virgin Mary of Pontus), 2017

Lyrics: Yiannis Tzouanopoulos

Music: Kostas Ayeris

Original Artist: Themis Adamantidis with Children's Choir of Dimitri Tipaldou, and with kemence instrumentals by Kostas Papayeridi

Dance Style: Not for dance, just for listening

Album: Tou Pontou Panayia

Τραγούδι: Του Πόντου Παναγιά, 2017

Στίχοι Γιάννης Τζουανόπουλος

Μουσική: Κώστας Αγέρης

Πρώτη Εκτέλεση: Ευθύμιος Θέμης Αδαμαντίδης & Παιδική Χορωδία Δημήτρη Τυπάλδου

Συμμετέχουν: Κώστας Παπαγερίδη, Ποντιακή Λύρα

Άλμπουμ: Του Πόντου Παναγιά

 

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Lyrics

Numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes that appear at the bottom of the translation.

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Μάνα μου Mana mou My Mother,
τα λόγια σου κρατάω ta loyia sou kratao I hold your words
σαν φυλαχτό san filahto like a charm. (1)
με' στη καρδιά me' sti kardia In the heart
τούτη η όμορφη πατρίδα touti ee omorfi patrida of this beautiful country.
δε' ζει με' στη σκλαβιά de' zi me' sti sklavia It doesn't live in slavery.
την κέντησε το δάκρυ tin kendise to dakri She was knitted by the tears (2)
στην λέξη λευτεριά stin lexi lefteria in the name of freedom.
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

Βοήθα του Πόντου Παναγιά voitho tou Pontou Panayia Help, Virgin Mary of Pontos
τον προδομένο μας λαό ton prodomenos mas lao of our betrayed people.
αχ, Παναγιά μου Σουμελά ah, Panayia mou Soumela Oh, my Virgin Mary Soumela,
σκύβω, το χέρι σου φιλώ skivo, to heri sou filo I bow and kiss your hand.
μίλα μας για τη' λευτεριά mila mas ya ti' lefteria Speak to us about freedom
να 'ρθει ξανά η ξαστεριά na 'rthi xana ee xasteria so the clear skies come again.
μίλα μας για τη' λευτεριά mila mas ya ti' lefteria Speak to us about freedom
να 'ρθει ξανά η ξαστεριά na 'rthi xana ee xasteria so the clear skies come again.
     
Μάνα μου Mana mou My Mother,
έχει ματώσει τούτη η όψη ehi matosi touti ee opsi this view has bled
aπ' τις πληγές ap' tis pliyes from the wounds
σου προσφυγιά sou prosfiya of your refuge.
πέφτουν οι 'μέρες peftoun ee 'meres The days are falling
με τη' κόψη me ti' kopsi with the cut
σαν λες πατρίδα έχε γεια san les patrida ehe yia as if you say long live my motherland. (3)
μαχαιρωμένο τώρα maheromeno tora Stabbed now,
το αύριο με σουγιά to avrio me souyia tomorrow with a pocket knife.
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

Βοήθα του Πόντου Παναγιά voitho tou Pontou Panayia Help, Virgin Mary of Pontos
τον προδομένο μας λαό ton prodomenos mas lao of our betrayed people.
αχ, Παναγιά μου Σουμελά ah, Panayia mou Soumela Oh, my Virgin Mary Soumela,
σκύβω, το χέρι σου φιλώ skivo, to heri sou filo I bow and kiss your hand.
μίλα μας για τη' λευτεριά mila mas ya ti' lefteria Speak to us about freedom
να 'ρθει ξανά η ξαστεριά na 'rthi xana ee xasteria so the clear skies come again.
μίλα μας για τη' λευτεριά mila mas ya ti' lefteria Speak to us about freedom
να 'ρθει ξανά η ξαστεριά na 'rthi xana ee xasteria so the clear skies come again.
     
μίλα μας για τη' λευτεριά mila mas ya ti' lefteria Speak to us about freedom
να 'ρθει ξανά η ξαστεριά na 'rthi xana ee xasteria so the clear skies come again.
     
μίλα μας για τη' λευτεριά mila mas ya ti' lefteria Speak to us about freedom
να 'ρθει ξανά η ξαστεριά na 'rthi xana ee xasteria so the clear skies come again.
  1. In Greece, the word filahto refers to something protective a person wears to avoid evil eye, avoid spirits, or bring luck. There is also religious filahto which resembles a tiny pillow that is blessed and typically is pinned under the clothes. The Greek Orthodox church does not believe in the evil eye; however, many Greeks continue to wear these beads either for fashion or belief.
  2. I believe here he is saying her heart was either knitted with tears, meaning they were incorporated into its fabric after it was broken, or the region was knitted or woven with tears. The idea is that she is no longer enslaved, but still pained.
  3. The word "patrida" can refer to either "country" or "motherland".

 

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Translations of
Themis Adamantidis' Songs On This Site

Translations on this web site of songs performed by Themis Adamantidis include:

 

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Pontian Anatolian Music Resources

Resources on this web site for Pontian Anatolian music and culture include:

Articles

Translations of Songs from Pontian Anatolian Greek Dialect into English and Modern Greek

  • Mana En Krion Neron (Mother Is Like Cold Water). By Giannis Tsanakalis. Many people consider this song to be a hymn to motherhood. Includes information about the traditional Pontian Anatolian folk dance known as "tik".
  • Sa Xena Ime Ellinas (In Foreign Lands I'm a Greek). By Stelios Kazantzidis. Unofficial anthem of the Greek diaspora. Includes information about the traditional Pontian Anatolian circle dance known as "omal".
  • Tin Patrida M' Ehasa (I Lost My Homeland). By Giannis Kourtidis & Ahileas Vasiliadis.

Translations of Songs in Modern Greek with Pontian References

  • Tou Pontou Panagia (The Virgin Mary of Pontus). By Themis Adamantidis. Includes cultural information about Monastery Panagia Soumela located in the Pontian mountains at Trapezounda.

Mainstream Greek Music with Pontian Influences

 

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About the Translator

This page was contributed by Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, who is happy to share her culture and music she grew up with! Here's how Panayiota describes her background:

I always love engaging with intelligent like-minded people, especially artists. I love sharing anything and everything about my Hellenic culture and upbringing, especially music and dance. A conversation with me will bring you back to America's favorite Greek-American movie by Nia Vardalos called My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I love investigating Greek culture, history, music, and dance. Speaking of investigating, I think I missed my calling, I probably should have been an investigator. Instead, I use those skills to dig and dig and dig tirelessly, often times falling asleep on my laptop... just to find the truth. But, most importantly, accurate truth. For me personally, and other respectable folklorists, my culture and accuracy are very important. Each generation of ethnic born artists has a duty to do the best it can to pass down our traditions as was taught to us. We have been given this artistic gift to be the gatekeepers of our heritage and culture.

Panayiota

 

 

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