|Zezvaoba and the Carpet Festival: Meeting Georgian traditions in Alvani field|
|June 06, 2008|
June 6, 2008
The region was celebrating its traditional holiday “Zezvaoba” as well as a carpet festival being held in the village. The celebration, which was organized by the Agency of Protected Areas, involved a lot of interesting activities, displaying many of the old traditions of the region.
The day started with an exhibition of Georgian-style carpets, handmade accessories, traditional Tushetian food and wine on the road which lead visitors to the house of Lili Murtazishvili, the director of the association “Tushetian Carpets” and a Tushetian woman who has been working with carpets for many years already. She has nearly 60 natural colors, and teaches the traditional handicraft to young people.
“When I started doing this work only 7 students were interested, now I have 67,” she said.
From this very old house decorated with numerous beautiful carpets, and from its small, green yard, full of old Georgian style “Qvevris” (Georgian vessels to keep wine) and with the voices of Tushetian women performing national songs, the traditional spirit started to spread all around and lasted to the end of the day.
Soon the whole group moved from the center of Alvani, to the upper part of the village, to the memorial stone of Zezva Gafrindauli, to celebrate “Zezvaoba” and fulfill all the symbolic and traditional rituals of the day.
“Zezvaoba” itself is a name-day of Zezva Gaprindauli, a person considered to be a hero and a savior of his people during the rebellion of the Bakhtrioni against the Turks in 1659. And since 1958 “Zezvaoba” has been celebrated in Tusheti every year in the last week of May.
The symbols started when ten Tushetian men, all dressed in Georgian national costumes (“chokha”) moved to the memorial stone of Zezva Gaprindauli, and held the ceremony of “Dalaoba”- a Tushetian tradition of expressing male grief for lost heroes, as the women there are not allowed to cry for them.
Later a horse-race was held, and the riders followed the route, which according to the legend, crosses the territory that King of Kakheti gave to Zezva, expressing his gratitude for the aid in the war. The king had promised to give Zezva the area of Tusheti which Zezva’s horse would be able to run through non-stop and since then Alvani field has belonged to Tusheti.
Visitors could also take part in shooting a bow, and finally all the winners of the competitions were awarded by the head of the Agency of Protected Areas.
So, this joyful, traditional festival, with really interesting things to do and see, was really a good step in keeping and presenting Georgian, or Tushetian culture. Besides, it was a real support for presenting the region as a unique place for tourists to visit.
As Irakli Gvaladze the Minster of Protection of the Environment and Natural Recourses said: “Zezvaoba is a celebration of the Georgian soul and our traditions. I’m happy that the Agency of Protected Areas is organizing the event, as it is really connected with tourism development. We have Tusheti National Park here which is a real cultural and natural treasure of the whole Georgia, and we should always take care to develop and preserve our rich heritage”
Along with the representatives of governmental organs, such as the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Irakli Gvaladze himself, the head of the Agency of Protected Areas Giorgi Shonvadze, and deputy of Akhmeta region Petre Tsiskarishvili, many representatives of international companies, diplomats, and businessmen attended the festival.
In Giorgi Shonvadze’s words a great number of tourists are expected in Tusheti National Park this year, as “Tusheti National Park is meeting the season with full tourist infrastructure, and tourist services will be organized at a high level. The preparation of several guesthouses has already finished, and tourist routes have also been arranged for horse riding or hiking.”
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