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Berikaoba – Georgian carnival similar to Halloween
31 October, 2017
Berikaoba, an old and almost forgotten Georgian improvised carnival, can be considered as a kind of Georgian Halloween. The performance represents the celebration of fertility and childbearing, as for the word Berikaoba itself, it is formed from Georgian stem (Ber) that translates to a child.

These two carnivals, Halloween and Berikaoba, have a lot of things in common.

Centuries ago, long before Halloween was introduced to Georgia, some villages in Eastern part of the country celebrated a pagan festival of fertility and rebirth known as Berikaoba.
Sketches of Berikaoba by a famous Georgian artist Lado Gudiashvili

Berikaoba typically involved several men, the Berikas, who were mostly disguised as animals.

The costumes and masks, for the purpose of mysteriousness, were made with animal hide.

Skulls, tails, feathers, horns, pumpkins, ribbons and bells were used to add creepiness to the participants’ appearance.

Traditionally, Berikaoba was celebrated in March The procession of Berikas – accompanied by sounds of bagpipes (stviri) – moved door-to-door to pick wine, honey, floor, meat and other victuals served by hosts.

Berikaoba by Georgian artist Zurab Kapanadze

The tradition of Berikaoba was included  on Georgia’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013.

In Old Tbilisi there is even a monument dedicated to the Berikaoba. The sculptural composition depicts Georgian folk theater of masks. All figures, as well as face expressions and costumes are different.

The monument was made by sculptors  A. Monaselidze and G. Janberidze in 1981.

Even though Berikaoba is almost forgotten nowadays, it is still preserved and celebrated throughout some of Georgia’s villages.

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