Leloburti – A Georgian Ancestor of Rugby
10 April, 2015
Leloburti – A Georgian Ancestor of Rugby
Easter in Georgia has numerous traditions and rituals associated with it, but for inhabitants of Guria the greatest Christian holiday would be incomplete without an ancient Georgian game of leloburti. The village of Shukhuti, Lanchkhuti region, has a three-century-old tradition: on Easter, all of its inhabitants split into two teams and begin the battle for possession of a 16-kilogram ball. The hefty sphere, stuffed with wood shavings and sand, is blessed by the village priest, who
then throws it into the air and the game begins. Several hundred people take to the game with such fervor that the ball is barely visible behind the huddle of bodies. The game, which features men, women, elderly and children alike, lasts for several hours and ends when one of the teams pushes the ball to a “lelo” – a small river.

Revaz Chitidze, denizen of Shukhuti:

“The village splits into upper and lower Shukhuti, and the road that splits the center of lower Shukhuti becomes the border of the “field.” The game begins in a location that is equally distant from both of the small rivers that flow to the west and east of the village. Both teams try to bring the ball to ‘their’ river; whichever team manages this is pronounced the winner.”

“Rib and collarbone fractures are frequent during the game of leloburti, but serious trauma is very rare.”

But why specifically on Easter, one might ask? Since it is the greatest holiday for the entire Orthodox Christian world, Gurians in general and inhabitants of Shukhuti in particular have decided to associate it with their favorite game as well. This tradition has continued uninterrupted for more than three hundred years, with the only exception being years 1941-1945, when few had time and mettle for games in a time of war. It is noteworthy that communists, in their ceaseless drive to destroy everything Christian, turned the festive game into an ordinary sports competition and transferred it to the 1st of May. However, the tradition was returned to its established date in 1990.

Revaz Chitidze:

“As a rule, a shot is fired into the air and the ball is brought to the field by the two oldest players from both teams. Two most well-known leloburti players, Grigol Apkhadze and Kosta Aragvelidze, died at the age of 90 but despite that did not go a single year without participating in the game! Can you imagine the power it takes to overcome the push of more than 200 players trying to take the ball from you? Rib and collarbone fractures are frequent during the game of leloburti, but serious trauma is very rare.”
geotv.ge
However, Father Saba, the abbot of the village’s St. George Cathedral that is located in the center of the village, has taken up the duty of bringing the ball to the field himself as of late. The amount of players in both teams is no longer strictly set, since not all inhabitants of the village are able to participate anymore. Still, the game continues to remain lasting and entertaining. There were cases when it lasted up to 6 hours.

Revaz Chitidze:

“When the game stretches out, even a few rested players who re-enter the battle – so-called new bloods – can turn the tide drastically. I’ve seen games when the ball that was almost at the riverbank was snatched away by the other team who managed to not only make a comeback at the brink of defeat, but also win the game! This is no small feat. The ball for leloburti is made of cow skin and filled with sand and wood shavings soaked in sanctified wine. It weighs 16 kilograms and throwing it around requires a lot of energy. Our ancestors, before beginning the game, would drink a special drink called “aguna,” believing that it would keep them energized and focused.

In addition to splitting into two teams, players are also split into several categories within them: there are those who hold the ball or fight for it directly, there are those who stay around the main group in order to direct the flow of the game and there are also women and children; they cannot go into the thick of it, but they help their team by intercepting the ball if it unexpectedly gets out of hand. Leloburti is so engaging that sometimes viewers themselves decide to join. And there is no lack of viewers, either. People from the entire region come to watch the game. In the 1970s there emerged a ritual of the winning team bringing the ball to the grave of a player who died during the year and leaving it there. This is why every year a new ball is sewn and stuffed.”
geotv.ge
Photos by www.msy.gov.ge (Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia)

Print
Other Stories
Spectators amazed by Nikoloz Basilashvili’s beautiful shot
The Georgian tennis player Nikoloz Basilashvili recently defeated the American player Jack Sock at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, Flushing Meadows, New York, during the US Open Tennis Championship.
Zaza Pachulia’s  accountant convicted of misappropriation of  800 ,000 US dollars
According to Sentinel, Zaza’s former accountant Randy Di Usow misappropriated 800 thousand US dollars from Georgian basketball player Zaza Pachulia and his wife.
Georgian National Rugby team preparing for the World Cup 2019
Rugby is becoming more and more popular in Georgia, mainly because Georgians appear to play it very well.
Guram Kashia to receive the inaugural #EqualGame award
Guram Kashia is a Georgian football player –presently a centre-back for the San-Francisco San Jose Earthquakes in the Major League Soccer MLS.
The win dedicated to the Georgians who died during the 2008 conflict
Davit Kiria is a Georgian kickboxer. He fights in the lightweight division. He has previously won the Kyokushinkai Karate Kamakura European Championship and the Glory Lightweight Championship in Zagreb in 2009 and 2014 respectively.
Gold medals at Judo Grand Prix, Zagrebi (Croatia)
The previous unsuccessful days were compensated by finals’ medals at the Grand Prix.
Nikoloz Basilashvili – First Georgian to win an ATP World Tour
Nikoloz Basilashvili is the first player from Georgia to gain an ATP World Tour title by winning the German Tennis Championships 2018.
Tochinoshin will not participate in the summer tour of Japan
On the 29th of July Sumo wrestlers would normally start their summer tour of Japan. It usually lasts for around 1 month.
Tochinoshin Pulls out of the 2018 Nagoya Basho, so what comes next?
Georgian Sumo wrestler, Levan Gorgadze (Tochinoshin) withdrew from the 2018 Nagoya Basho Grand Sumo Tournament on July 14 due to a tendon injury in his foot.
More gold medals for Georgian wheelchair fencers
Irma Khetsuriani, a Georgian wheelchair fencer recently defeated Saysunee Jana of Thailand with a score of 15-10 in the Sabre category, at the Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Warsaw, Poland (9-12July) to gain another gold medal (IWAS Senior world games).
Tochinoshin pulls out of Nagoya Basho due to trauma
Today Georgian Sumo Wrestler Levan Gorgadze, also known as Tochinoshin pulled out of Nagoya Basho tournament.
Tochinoshin loses a battle at the 6th day of Nagoya Basho
Today Tochinoshin Levan Gorgadze lost the battle against Komusubi Tamawashi.
Tochinoshin wins for the fifth time in a row at the Nagoya Basho
Today Tochinoshin Levan Gorgadze won for the fifth time in a row at the Nagoya Basho tournament.
Tochinoshin wins for fourth time in a row in Sumo Tournament
Today, on the fourth day of the Nagoya Basho Sumo tournament, Georgian Tochinoshin has won again, the fourth time in a row.
Tochinoshin wins third time in a row
It is a third day of Nagoya Basho, Sumo tournament. Georgian Sumo wrestler Levan Gorgadze won third time in a row.
Tochinoshin wins second time in a row in Sumo tournament
Today, on a second day of Nagoya Basho tournament, Georgian Sumo wrestler Levan Gorgadze, whose nickname is Tochinoshin, won second time in a row.
Georgia’s U20 rugby team beats Scotland, claims 9th place at the World Rugby U20 Championship
Georgia achieved their best ever finish of ninth overall at the World Rugby U20 Championship. Junior Lelos won three consecutive games for the first time at the Championship.
Canoer Zaza Nadiradze claims the first ever gold medal in canoeing
Canoer Zaza Nadiradze claims the first ever gold medal in canoeing.
Georgian basketball player Zaza Pachulia’s team wins NBA Championship
The Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship. The team has defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers with a final score of 108-85 on Friday evening, completing a perfect 4-0 sweep.
Georgian Ozeki Tochinoshin awarded honorary citizenship of Mtskheta
Georgian Ozeki and world-famous sumo wrestler Levan Gorgadze (Tochinoshin) was granted the title of honorary citizen
 Georgian sumo wrestler beats 40-time champion in 12th big match
On May 24, 2018 Georgian sumo wrestler Tochinoshin (Levan Gorgadze) triumphed in the 12th match of 15-day Summer Grand Sumo
Georgia to host 2023 Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships
Georgia’s famous ski resorts of Bakuriani and Gudauri will host the 2023 Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships.
Dinamo Arena to host historic match between Georgian Rugby Team and French Barbarians on May 31
Georgian Rugby Team, nicknamed as The Lelos, will play against French Barbarians (The Barbarian Rugby Club) on May 31.
Messi appointed Ambassador for Responsible Tourism by Georgian head of World Tourism Organization
Lionel Messi, a world famous footballer from Argentina, considered by many the best football player of all times,
Georgian Judokas claim 14 medals at Tbilisi Grand Prix competition
Georgian judo team became the triumphator at the tournament Grand Prix, a competition hosted in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
19.09.2018
20.09.2018
USD
1
USD
2.6188
2.6179
EUR
1
EUR
3.0593
3.0606
GBP
1
GBP
3.4414
3.4517
RUB
100
RUB
3.8673
3.9087
Other Stories
Georgia’s Under-20 national rugby team have claimed their second victory at the ongoing Rugby World Cup in Japan
You can be hopeful of us like we are of you, - sumo wrestler Tochinoshin (Levan Gorgadze) told Georgian Prime Minister
On June 4, world-famous Georgian sumo wrestler Tochinoshin (born Levan Gorgadze) arrived in his homeland.
Georgian rugby team claimed yet another historic victory over French Barbarians – the second national team of the French Rugby Federation.
For the first time in the history of Sumo wrestling, a Georgian national has become the owner of the Emperor’s Cup.
Renowned Georgian chess player Nana Dzagnidze claimed the gold medal
It was in the beginning of the 1980s, when FC Dinamo Tbilisi was enjoying their best
The Georgian national rugby team defeated the U.S. squad at the Mikheil Meskhi stadium in Tbilisi on November 25.
Georgian athletes defeated British in sitting volleyball at the Invictus Games Toronto, Canada, 2017.
The national basketball team of Georgia defeated Israel at the Eurobasket
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.6179
EUR
1
EUR
3.0606
GBP
1
GBP
3.4517
RUB
100
RUB
3.9087