Water is the symbolic element of the Delphic Games, as is fire for the Olympic Games.
Water is of high spiritual significance and the single most important source of human life. If it vanishes, all life on earth will be extinguished. In modern times global climate change and human action have made water a luxury in wide parts of the world.
The Delphic Games are considered as a peace-making competition of the arts, organized by the Amphictyony, the collective union of 12 Greek tribes, to maintain peace and to protect the sanctuary after Three Holy Wars fighting against each other to solely own the sanctuary.
Six months before the beginning of the Games the organizers proclaimed the Delphic Peace Accord. As a result, Delphi became the neuralgic crossroads for solving conflicts. The Amphictyony is today seen as an early forerunner of the United Nations.
The special role of the Hellenic Delphic Council (HDC)
The HDC is the National Council of Greece where the games where born and where the Delphic ideal is still symbolically represented in the site of Delphi.
The HDC has the responsibility of organizing the Castalian Spring Ceremony equivalent to the Olympic flame ceremony. The Castalian Spring Ceremony takes place some months before each worldwide Delphic Games / youth Delphic Games as well as prior to regional / continental Delphiads.
The waters of the Castalian Spring had the cleansing symbolism of other traditions like the Netilat Yadayim, the ritual washing in Judaism, or the acqua benita of Catholicism.
The Castalian Spring Ceremony
The ceremony is a simple rite in the manner of the ancient tradition.
Only 7 girls which are designated by the HDC can perform the ceremony of a ritual dance accompanied by the Hymn to Apollo, one of the few remnants of ancient Greek Music, performed by a team of Musicians headed by specialist in Ancient Greek Music.
The girls are professional dancers of the State School of Dance and have an exclusive contract to perform the ritual, becoming symbolic keepers of the Spring.
The water is being handed on a special amphora by the Chief-Priestess to the representative of the Host Country, in front of the Mayor of Delphi who presents his counterpart with the Delphic Flag.
After this ceremony, 20 to 25 min. long, an artistic program may or may not follow, independent of the ceremony.