Feast of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ celebrated at the Armenian Diocese in Georgia
On July 16, 2023, Armenian Apostolic Holy Church celebrated the Feast of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the Armenian Church’s five major feasts was celebrated with the Divine Liturgy at the churches of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia. From the morning, the faithful from Tbilisi and the Armenian-populated regions of Georgia were coming to the house of God with great enthusiasm to congratulate each other and to participate in the celebration of Vardavar, as the people call this feast.
Joyful mood and liveliness prevailed at the Cathedral of Saint George in Tbilisi and Saint Etchmiadzin church in Avlabari. Under the presidency of the Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan, Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Rev. Father Virap Ghazaryan at the Cathedral of Saint George and by Rev. Father Samvel Torosyan at Saint Etchimadzin church in Avlabari.
During the Divine Liturgy, Rev. Fathers preached about the divine mystery of the day. It is known from the evangelical story that Jesus Christ with his three disciples, Peter, Thaddeus and John, ascended Mount Tabor and while praying there, he enlightened and transfigured.
Gregory of Tatev (Grigor Tatevatsi, Armenian philosopher and theologian) explains the name of the holiday "Vardavar" ("Rose Festival") by comparing the rose with Jesus. Just as a rose is hidden in its shell until it opens, and when it opens, it is visible to all, so Jesus before the transfiguration carried the Divine brightness in Himself and, being transfigured, revealed His Divinity.
After the Protector Prayer and blessings offered by the spiritual servants, the festive mood continued in the courtyards of two churches in the capital city. The traditional game of pouring water or Vardavar, which comes from the pagan era and had received a Christian meaning, started with splashing water on each other.
The water game was accompanied by cheerful songs and music organized by "Hayartun" Center. The elderly and young people, guests and participants of the liturgy took part in the water game.
After the joyful water game, song and dance and the traditional round dance symbolizing unity, in the courtyard of Saint Etchmiadzin Church in Avlabar, the attendees were treated with Matagh (Thanksgiving Animal Sacrifice) by Arayik Babajanyan, Arno Babajanyan’s son.
Spiritually enlightened by the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ and purified by the water of Vardavar, the faithful returned to their homes, carrying the encouragement of spiritual fathers to live a new life, cleansed by water and renewed by Jesus.
After the Divine Liturgy, festive celebrations on the occasion of the Feast of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ took place at Holy Cross (Surb Khach) church in Akhalkalaki, Saint Gregory the Illuminator (Surb Grigor Lusavorich) church in Akhaltsikhe, Saint Sarkis (Surb Sargis) church in Ninotsminda, Saint Savior (Surb Prkich) church in Batumi and other churches of the nearby villages.