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For Georgian people "Alaverdoba", is often associated with the short story from the school curriculum written by Georgian writer Guram Rcheulishvili. It can also be associated with Giorgi Shengelaia's Soviet film. Though many may don't know what is the meaning of the Alaverdoba festival, which combines these two works of art.
Alaverdoba is an ancient holiday celebrating fertility and harvesting. "Alaverdi" originates from the Turkish word "god-given". It can be said that it is the longest holiday in history, which used to start on September 29 and lasted for three weeks. Currently, it is celebrated annually, on September 27-28. According to the Pre-Christian beliefs, Alaverdoba is cyclical and includes pre, middle, and last Alaverdoba. Alaverdoba is held in the name of Joseph Alaverdeli, one of the thirteen Assyrian fathers, in the Alaverdi temple founded by him, in the Akhmeta region.
Joseph Alaverdi was a disciple of St. John Zedazneli, who came to Georgia from Syria in the sixth century, accompanied by twelve disciples, to revive Christianity. St. Joseph settled in Kakheti, on the place where the Alaverdi temple stands today. His activities strengthened the worship in Kakheti.
Alaverdoba holiday gathered many people, about 15-20 thousand ones. As it is known, the fest united the worshipers from different regions. People from Kakheti, Kartli, Tusheti, Khevsureti, Pshavi, Saingilo, Armenian Grigorian's, Leks, Dido, Ossetians, Kists, Tatars settled in Kakheti, used to gather in the Alaverdi temple at night. Christian and Muslim worshipers brought sacrifices. According to the Kirion II Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, a rooster was sacrificed. However, according to ethnographic materials, along with the rooster, which was supposed to be up to one year old, the ram was also sacrificed. Tushetians and Kakhetians permitted the worshipers of their origin to slaughter.
Arriving in Alaverdi, the worshiper goes around the temple three times from the right, then enters the temple and lights candles. Kists and Tatars from Karajala still pray together with Georgians.
The Alaverdoba fest had its characteristic, ritual ending. 200-300 horsemen gathered in the yard of the Alaverdi temple and went around it with the song "Dalai" for the souls of the war victims. The rule of going around the temple three times with the song "Dalai" was connected with the memory of the Tushetian warriors. in the Battle of Bakhtrioni, in 1659, together with other Georgians, Tushetian warriors finally liberated "Alaverdi, that the Turkmen had transformed into stable and fortress".
The Alaverdoba festival reflected the name of every saint or divine historical event. It has witnessed and reflected the difficult, tragic, and at the same time glorious events of the history of Kakheti and the Church in the VI-XVIII centuries. The Alaverdoba celebration became associated with the Exaltation of the Cross in the 16th century when King Levan of Kakheti brought part of a holy cross from Jerusalem to Alaverdi. Since then it has become a major holiday for the people. It should be noted that Alaverdoba was a good opportunity for bringing together and uniting people of different nations and religions.
Alaverdi Temple is one of the largest church buildings in Georgia. Its height, including the dome, even exceeds 50 meters. Alaverdi - Cathedral and monastery, is located in the Alazani Valley near the village of Alaverdi, 20 km from Telavi, Akhmeta municipality, the Kakheti region. It was founded in the 6th century by Joseph Alaverdeli.
The buildings included in the complex are St. George's church of Alaverdi, fence, bell tower, palace, Feykar-Khan Palace, cellar, and bath.
In addition to the name of Joseph Alaverdeli, the church is associated with the names of St. George, Ketevan the Martyr, and the Feast of the Cross.
Originally Alaverdi was a friary. Later, in the XVII-XVIII centuries, nuns also settled there. Among them were members of the royal family who became nuns.
In the VI century a disciple of St. John Zedazneli, Joseph Alaverdeli built a small church named after St. George. Kvirike the King of Kakheti built a Cathedral on the site of a small church at the beginning of the XI century. Alaverdi immediately became the main shrine of the Kakhetians.
From the XI century, Alaverdi is the crypt of kings. Here is buried Teimuraz I and the sacred relics of Ketevan the Martyr, laid to rest by Augustinian monks.
In the XV century, by the order of King Alexander of Kakheti, Alaverdi was rebuilt, the dome was raised. Alaverdi has become the highest temple in Georgia (50 m.).
There are frescoes of the XV-XVI centuries on the southern walls of the temple, and frescoes of the XVI-XVII centuries on the western and northern walls.
Alaverdoba was associated with a traditional bazaar, which was particularly held from the second half of the XIX century. Industrial goods, domestic products, livestock, and agricultural products were sold here. Shops were set according to the government plan. The square around Alaverdi was divided into streets, where traders of various goods had their place. To keep order and spend the day peacefully, one man was elected from each samamasakhliso (administrative division) of the nearby villages. Tushetians brought cotton, cheese, and butter for sale at the market; Pshavs brought weapons, fabric, caucasian burka, felt; Khevsurians brought cattle; Armenians brought swords, sweets, leather boots, warm clothes and many European goods for sale. These goods were sold for cash, or exchanged. The Georgian kings supported this festive market, as they considered it a good way to bring people of different nations and religions closer together.