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01 November, 2021

Berikaoba

Category: Information Culture

There are not many holidays during the year that are celebrated throughout the whole country and unite all types of people, regardless of age, gender or religion. However, since the beginning of the early twentieth century, the pagan holiday Berikaoba was celebrated all around Georgia. The festival of Keenoba is considered to be similar to it and obviously, they have a common origin, but the Keenoba festival became an urban holiday while the Berikaoba is specially celebrated in the villages. Preparations for Berikaoba began with the coming of spring. The holiday was dedicated to the awakening of nature, fertility, the celebration of the new year, and the hope that the next year would be prosperous. The preparation process was quite labor-intensive, families were preparing foods, decorations were made for the holiday, such as wooden daggers, masks, or clothes for the berikas (carnival mummers). Many reckon that the festival is the origin of theater, the berikas were a kind of actors who played different roles and staged certain scenes on the streets. The cast was chosen from the beginning and everyone had their role, starting with the main role ending with other roles, like Tatar, Leki (Dagestani people), bride, or Arab. Although the age was not limited primarily a younger generation was taking part in the celebration. The number of the berikas was in proportion with the size of the rural population. As soon as the first rays of the sun appeared, the day was starting in towns and villages differently, but in the same noisy and energetic way. The moveable holiday, in which all the locals were engaged despite their desire, was a truly amazing spectacle. During the day, the berikas visited all the villagers, door to door, and as a rule, they should not leave any of the houses empty-handed. Of course, some families had nothing to give and did not open the door to the berikas, and they cursed such families and wished poverty for them. The berikas visited everyone with march and noise except the grieving families, where they gave a toast for the lost loved ones and continued on their way. This is how the food was collected. Then at the end of the day, they have been taken to one family, and the celebration ended with a party in this family. It is interesting that when the berikas of the two villages met each other, the main berikas of the village wrestled with each other. The winner could take the food of the defeated village. Over time, the holiday retained the purpose of the celebration, although it was adapted and different roles were added to the Berikaoba scenes. Before the change, Berika, who played the role of an Arab, was thrown into the water or the mud as a sign of the liberation of Georgia from the Arabs. But then berika played the role of a feudal lord or a person whom the village could not boldly oppose. The theatrical staging became a kind of hidden protest. Many prominent people, including Ilia Chavchavadze, wanted to preserve this tradition and holiday. Unfortunately, in the modern world, Berikaoba is celebrated only in certain villages. The village of Didi Chailuri stands out in this regard. The number of people who knew the rules for celebrating the holiday has significantly decreased. Masks, role-playing, asking for victuals from the people, these few traditions are similar to the famous holiday "Halloween" although there are fundamental differences between the two holidays. Similar to the Celtic festival mentioned above, Berikaoba also has the potential to regain its celebration tradition and become the day when everyone unites and celebrates the start of a new phase.

Tags: #Culture #tradition #Information #ტრადიციები
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