Under the title of “religious tourism,” the Rashaya municipality organized its annual procession to Mount Hermon on the occasion of Transfiguration Day celebrated on August 6. About a thousand people coming from several Lebanese regions took part in the seven-hour march from Rashaya to the Hermon summit, the region’s highest peak, which Jesus Christ is believed to have visited thousands of years ago.

The Daily Star, taking part in the procession, noticed that this year’s celebration was one of a kind with the Lebanese flag decorating the headquarters of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for the first time in years, when one of the participants presented it to an UNDOF soldier.

UNDOF was established in 1974 following the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights to supervise the implementation of the agreement and maintain the cease-fire.

The international force erected a cross made from shrapnel leftovers on the peak to pay homage to the religious significance of the area.

This year was also marked by the baptism of 2-month-old boy Emanuel Karam, whose parents came from the northern region of Koura to celebrate this occasion on Mount Hermon.

“We got married in the Tyre region of Qana and today we will celebrate the baptism of our son on Mount Hermon,” Shokr Karam told The Daily Star.

“This is our first visit to Mount Hermon,” said his wife Claire Karam. “We have not even decided on a godfather. We are going to choose one from the group here.”

Shamoun Mouannes, an Austrian sportsman of Lebanese origin, stressed the importance of such a “special” day.

“This day includes physical and spiritual exercise at the same time,” he told The Daily Star.

At an altitude of 2,200 meters, the Rashaya municipality has established a central camp fully equipped to respond to visitors’ needs. While some people chose to rest at this camp, others climbed the 2,814 meters to the summit to spend the night in tents.

Transfiguration Day is the only occasion when UNDOF allow visitors to reach Mount  Hermon, also known as Jabal al-Sheikh.

During the trip, pilgrims can see relics of fighting that took place between Israeli and Syrian forces some 35 years ago.

One can see worn-out military uniforms, bombs scattered along the road, wreckage from helicopters and rockets.

On October 6, 1973, war erupted between Israeli and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights before the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 350 on May 31, 1974, by which it set up the UNDOF. The force has since performed its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties.

In front of the UNDOF headquarters at Camp Faouar, barbed wires have been set up along with signs warning against the danger of mines.

“War has passed by this place, will peace also pass by this area and dominate the whole region?” asked one of the priests taking part in the trip.

To participate in Rashaya annual procession to Mount Hermon, contact us.