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Alaverdoba – Famous multicultural celebration in Kakheti
28 September, 2016
Alaverdoba is an ancient religious and folk holiday in Georgia’s Kakheti region. The celebration has its roots in a harvest festival. The name derives from the 6th century Alaverdi Cathedral that was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, then a small village. (Alaverdeli literally means The one from Alaverdi). The cathedral has gained its present appearance after it underwent renovation in the 11th century. The festival lasts for few days and it is celebrated with a big feast on September 28. In the past Alaverdoba lasted for three weeks and honored pre-Christian cults related to the moon.

According to Nino Ghambashidze from Ivane Javakhishvili Institute of History and Ethnology, the sources dating back to 19th century report that locals constructed market and pubs in the area near the monastery under government’s permission. Inhabitants of different regions of the country as well as people from neighboring countries brought goods, cattle and other stuff to sell or exchange. For instance, inhabitants from Tusheti brought colorful cotton clothes, cheese, butter; people from Pshavi brought guns, textile, whereas people from Khevsureti brought cattle. It is noteworthy that Armenians also took part in the festival and used to sell sweets, leather shoes, warm clothes and other goods brought from Europe. These products were sold as well as exchanged for other goods. Georgian kings used to support this festival and such market, for it fostered the cultural exchange and communication of people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds. In addition, the celebration always ended with special ritual. Around 200-300 riders from Tusheti used to gather and march around the church by singing in honor to those warriors who perished during the war. According to some sources, this ritual was dedicated in particular to those warriors who deceased in Bakhtrioni Battle in 1659 when fighting Safavid Persia’s political domination over Georgia. Ultimately Georgians managed to free the strongholds of Alaverdi and Bakhtrioni occupied by the enemy.

Photo courtesy of Roman Tolordava

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