Today was Vardavar, perhaps the most loved of all Armenia's festivals. For children, in particular, it's the one day in the year when they can throw water over each other and drench strangers foolish enough to take to the streets. All without fear of discipline from their parents and today was no exception. It was therefore hardly surprising that fewer people dared to risk walking under balconies or anywhere near areas where groups of children congregated, plastic bottles and buckets full of water in hand.
As with most festivals in Armenia, although now considered Christian, Vardavar in fact has its roots in pagan times and this variant of the festival is still carried out today by a small group of pagan Armenians. Actually, if the truth be known, most are not really pagans at all but believe that history goes back long before 301 AD when Armenians were the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity as the official state religion.
The ancient Armenian pagan feast “Vartavar” was traditionally associated with the Goddess Astghik, the Goddess of Water, Beauty, Love and Fertility. The festivities associated with this religious observance of Astghik were named “Vartavar” because of the fact that Armenians offered her roses as a celebration (“vart” means “roses” in Armenian). Also, they released doves and sprinkled water on each other. Vartavar was celebrated during harvest time. It was an expression of gratitude in return for the goodness of the harvest. The prayers directed to her asked for water for the benefit of fields and fruit orchards and vineyards for the harvest. Animals were also sacrificed.
A1 Plus reports that Vardavar is celebrated 98 days after Easter, usually between 28 July 28 - 1 August, so I don't quite understand why this year it was celebrated on 3 July but never mind. And just to confuse matters, I also remember from a few years back that Vardavar is also celebrated on a different day in the north eastern Tavoush region of Armenia. Again, I'm not sure why and it probably doesn't matter anyway. It's a great day for kids although some adults don't quite get into the fun. However, I have to wonder whether or not they also drenched their elders when they were young. Probably.
There's some nice footage of Vardavar at the end of Arthur Margaryan's music video which is only a small download at http://www.oneworld.am/artur.wmv. Incidentally, I got soaked three times. Thank god my F5 is waterproof, especially as water seems to be a recurring theme of late. Last weekend I photographed the kids from the Vanadzor Children's Home visiting Water World in Yerevan.
More photos from today's Vardavar in Yerevan can be found online here.
Tag: armenia | culture