Harissa Festival-2018 kicks off in Akhkyorp village of Marneul region

Celebrating the Armenian Boun Barekendan holiday with a Harissa festival has become a nice tradition for the Armenian Diocese of Georgia. This year, the tradition will be preserved, but the celebration will be more large-scale and multifaceted.

On February 4, 2018, the Harissa Festival kicked off in the borderline, Armenian-populated Akhkyorp village of Marneul region. The festival was organized by Shushanik Union of Armenian Women of Georgia and held with the support of Sacristan of the Holy Etchmiadzin Church of Tbilisi, Fr. Priest Manuk Zeynalyan.

The next day, Priest Manuk and his wife, active member of Shushanik Union of Armenian Women of Georgia and teacher of Saint Movses Khorenatsi Preschool Ani Zeynalyan headed towards the village where they made Harissa along with the local women and under the direction of Ani Zeynalyan until dawn.

The event gathered the locals of all ages. There was a lot of commotion. Women were mixing the boiler full of Harissa, while the men were looking after the fire and setting the tables next to each other and the elders were remembering the Harissa of the Armenians of Musa Ler. After lighting candles and saying a prayer at the St. Mary’s Chapel built in 1861, the residents of Akhkyorp were joined by members of Shushanik Union of Armenian Women of Tbilisi and representatives of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese.

Addressing the public, Priest Manuk delivered a sermon devoted to the symbol of the Armenian Boun Barekendan holiday, gave the blessing of the leader of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese and congratulated everyone on the Harissa Festival. President of Shushanik Union of Armenian Women of Georgia Susanna Khachatryan touched upon the history of the Harissa Festival and talked about the need for preservation and modernization of Armenian national cuisine as a part of national culture, as well as celebrating Christian holidays according to customs and traditions and transmitting them to the generations. Khachatryan voiced hope that custom of celebrating the Armenian Boun Barekendan holiday with a Harissa festival will also be established in this village.

On behalf of the locals, head of the village Gigol Atabekyan thanked everyone for revitalizing community life and stated that any progress is reassuring in a village that is cut off from the center and has several problems.

After the Lord’s Prayer, Priest Manuk blessed the salt and poured it in the boilers full of Harissa. The women and ladies of the village were joined by the women from Tbilisi, and everyone was treated to Harissa.

The women were happy, the children were in a great mood, and the men of the village tasted the juicy and tasty Armenian dish with excitement.

The guests from Tbilisi were content. The locals were inspired by the generosity as they felt the ongoing attention of the leader of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese toward the village and the decision to start the Harissa Festival in this village, which has a history spanning 300 years, is located on the border between Georgia and Armenia and is cut off from the center with roads that are almost impassable. Harissa was also sent to the disabled and elderly. Priest Manuk also visited several bedridden patients, treated them to Harissa and said a prayer for their medical treatment.

The locals expressed their gratitude to the pastor and his wife for organizing and supporting the festival. The residents of Akhkyorp also hosted a reception.

The Harissa Festival is a one-week diocesan event. Starting from February 4, such events are also scheduled to be held in the Samtskhe-Javakhk and Kvemo Kartli regions and other Armenian-populated areas of Georgia. The final event will be held on the Armenian Boun Barekendan holiday (11 February), that is, a festival that will be held in all centers of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese at the same time.


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