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Kandilakia (Greek: Καντηλάκια) are a small wayside shrine used in Greece to commemorate those who have died in a tragic accident, or by those who have survived a potentially fatal accident. It is also used as a public prayer corner, especially in Greek cities.
Use & Design
Kandilakia are small shrines made of concrete, stone, metal or wood and often take the shape of a little church. They hold Orthodox Christian icons, in addition to oil lamps. Sometimes they will even have a small hand censer for the burning of incense. In more mountainous areas of Greece, kandilakia may be carved into the side of cliffs rather than placed as a freestanding shrine.
As mentioned, most kandilakia are built in the shape of small Greek Orthodox chapels and will have a central door, along with some windows to let the light of a candle out. Larger kandilakia may even be large enough for someone to walk into and use as a small prayer corner.
Kandilakia don't always commemorate a fatal or potentially fatal accident. Some kandilakia are placed around cities as public prayer corners, sometimes placed outside churches so people may stop and pray while going about their daily life. Many Orthodox Churches in Greece are kept open at most hours of the day so people may enter and pray or participate in services, but kandilakia will be placed outside in case the church is closed. Some larger kandilakia will also have beeswax candles with a donation box so anyone may pray and light a candle. One may also find kandilakia placed in a cemetery so visitors may pray for and commemorate the departed.
There are also some kandilakia which can be bought and built for private individuals and serve as private chapels on private property. The chapel won't and cannot be used for official services (nor is it large enough), but it usually used as family's private icon/prayer corner.