In accordance with the Armenian Church calendar, July 24, 2022 is the Feast of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The third 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, liveliness prevailed in the churches. The faithful from Tbilisi and other Armenian-populated regions of Georgia were coming to church with great enthusiasm to participate in the Feast of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ or, as people say, celebration of Vardavar.
The Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan celebrated a festive Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Saint George.
During the Divine Liturgy, Rev. Father preached about the divine mystery of the day. The truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God was confirmed by the Feast of Transfiguration. The mystery of the Feast is to love God, listen to His commandments and follow God's will. The message of the feast is to recover with Jesus, to live a new life with Jesus Christ, a life which will bring kindness, love, solidarity and spiritual enlightenment to humanity. Rev. Father urged the faithful to enrich their lives with spiritual values, good deeds, mercy and forgiveness.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, after the Protector Prayer and blessings offered by the Diocesan Primate and spiritual fathers, the festive mood continued in the churchyard. The festive day also became a historic one. The second khachkar (cross-stone) was opened at the Cathedral of Saint George, which was built in the 13th-century and is a silent testimony of the devotion to faith, patriotism, and friendship of the peoples of countries with ancient civilizations.
The installation of the khachkar made with tuf (type of stone) was initiated and implemented by the charity of a RA resident Karen Khachatryan’s family. The mystery of this khachkar is the desire for peace, which is the desirable dream of peoples of all nations. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”is engraved on the pedestal of the khachkar. Indeed, the prayer of the peoples who have seen and experienced the horrors of war is to live a safe life under a peaceful sky.
The consecration of the khachkar with sacred Muron was offered by The Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan with the participation of clergy and deacons. Rev. Father Kirakos Davtyan congratulated the members of the Khachatryan family and all their relatives present at the ceremony and expressed his appreciation for the activities done for the church.
Afterwards, the concert of the Diocesan "Hayartun" Center launched in the church yard. The joyful song and dance performed by artistic groups, "Taron" dance ensemble, soloists and accompanists (Suren Abramyan, the head of the Department of Culture of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia). followed each other and were presented by Eugenia Markosyan the head of the Center.
The traditional game of pouring water or Vardavar, which comes from pagan era and had received a Christian meaning started. Elderly and young people, locals and tourists who were a little bit surprised and interested and despite that they joined the joyful celebration and rejoiced with those who were sprinkling rosewater on each other.
Festive celebrations on the occasion of theFeast of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ took place at “Saint Savior” (Surb Prkich) church in Batumi, “Saint Gregory the Illuminator” (Surb Grigor Lusavorich) church in Akhaltsikhe, “Holy Cross” (Surb Khach) church in Akhalkalaki, “Saint Sarkis” (Surb Sargis) church in Ninotsminda and the churches in nearby villages. The Armenian-populated villages of Tsalka region have their own custom of celebrating church feasts. Traditionally, the feast of Vardavar is celebrated in Ayazma village, where faithful from different villages of the region gather and beautify the feast with a concert and water sprinkling games.
On May 27, 2022, “House of Hovhannes Tumanyan” Center of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia was decorated with colorful paintings. The palette of the paintings was various and mysterious which testifies the painter’s rich imagination, wide horizon in his harmonious colors, expressiveness of his paintings. The author of those art works is Artyom Alabulyants, who was born in Tbilisi, a person who is very sociable, philanthropic, with great sense of humor, an Armenian who is devoted to his nation, a church-loving person who attends almost all the events of the Armenian community and every Sunday takes part in Divine Liturgies and other ceremonies of the Armenian Church.
Famous artist Iren Ohanjanova delivered a meaningful speech about Artyom Alabulyants’s wide creative inner world. Connecting the art-loving pages of Alabulyants’s life to his personality, the artist introduced Artyom Alabulyants as a professional musician, talented artist, gifted with childlike purity and youthful simplicity.
Artyom Alabulyants, who during the event, periodically presented motives for creating his painting, story of brushstrokes, even the choice of titles of his works, strengthen the admiration of those who knows him as well-known artist among other artists due to his great ability to create, but who rarely appears in creative bohemia with exhibition organized not often. The speakers had a lot to say because had an opportunity to learn about Alabultants’s childhood, adolescence, choice of future career, mastery of various instruments, playing viola in orchestra for many years, his talent to create graphics and oil paintings, making unique ornaments. These facts were presented in speeches and appreciations of artist critic Solomon Nadiashvili, painter and architect Giuli Beridze, editor of “Vrastan” (“Georgia”) newsletter Van Bayburdyan, public figure Levon Chidilyan, and the tour guide of the Center Gohar Mazmanyan.
Arayik Babajanyan, Gia Nairashvili, Zhanna Davtyan, Meruzhan Shahumyan, Marina Khachaturova and many other persons who knew Artom Alabulyants and appreciate his art, were in attendance.
The evening was also saturated with beautiful piano and solo performances by singer Svetlana Tatoeva, pianist Isa Abovyan, foreign singer Samuel Ojedokuni.
The event related to the beauty and sincere warmth, created a joyful mood among the audience who addressed words of appreciation to the author and the staff members of the “House of Hovhannes Tumanyan” Center of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia.
On the fourth Saturday of the Great Lent, the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church commemorates the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.
On March 26, 2022, during the Morning and Evening Service in the Cathedral of Saint George and Saint Etchmiadzin church, candles decorated with flowers were lit in the memory of 40 Sebastian Martyrs, who were from different cities of Lesser Armenia and were involved in military service in the imperial regiment of the Sebastia city and were martyred in the early 4th century. The altar decorated with 40 candles during the Service was symbolizing the faithfulness to Christian faith and martyrdom of Holy Forty Martyrs, which was seen with the bright crowns. One candle was left without flowers. It was the candle of a martyr, who could not withstand suffering, and the candle symbolized his loss of earthly and heavenly life.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Rev. Father Virap Ghazaryan in the Cathedral of Saint George and Rev. Father Samvel Torosyan in Saint Etchmiadzin church properly preached about the mystery of the day and encouraged those present, to follow the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and to remain faithful to the faith of Christ despite all the hardships of life, to live in love, to be kind and ready for sacrifice, to overcome temptations and live in order to deserve the Kingdom of Heaven.
Afterwards deacons read the story of 40 Sebastian Martyrs.
At the end of the Liturgy, the spiritual fathers traditionally consecrated vegetable oil, which the faithful took home.
The 40 martyrs' relics are kept in Sebaste where a church consisting of forty domes dedicated to the Forty Holy Martyrs was built later and was standing until Timur Lang's invasion.
It is the Great Lent period in accordance with the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church Calendar. On March 23, 2022, Great Lent was divided into two parts because it was the 24th day. It is called Mijink, the Median Day of Great Lent. This church feast is celebrated with a number of folk traditions and customs, for instance, baking bagharj (sweet unleavened cake) or gata (Armenian pastry).
Under the leadership of spiritual pastors, the churches of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, prepared to properly celebrate the church feast with folk celebration.
Peace Service and Requiem Service were offered with the participation of clergy and deacons in the Cathedral of Saint George in Tbilisi and Saint Etchmiadzin church in Avlabari.
The Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan offered his blessings to those present, and Rev. Father Samvel Torosyan touched upon the mystery of the day. Rev. Father wished the faithful to pass the second half of the Great Lent period with love and faith, which will last until the Glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which this year will be celebrated on April 17 in accordance with the church calendar of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church.
The folk tradition to celebrate Mijink with bagharj or gata has turned the feast into Armenian Gata Festival among the Armenians from Georgia. Various types of gata, baked on the occasion of the feast, were on the tables, and after blessings, the members of “Hayartun” Center and “Nerses the Gracious” (“Nerses Shnorhali”) Choir gave gatas to the people. Some of those present get a beautiful surprise - blessed crosses by the godfathers of churches.
Mijink was solemnly celebrated with Gata Festival in the main Holy Cross (Surb Khach) church of the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tsalka's General Prelacy in Akhalkalaki and nearby villages; Saint Gregory Illuminator (Surb Grigor Lusavorich) church in Akhaltsikhe; Saint Sarkis church in Ninotsminda; Saint Savior (Surb Prkich) church in Batumi; Armenian churches of villages of Tsalka and Aspindza, Kvemo Kartli regions, as well as Saint Gregory of Narek spiritual, educational, cultural, and youth center in Rustavi city. The participants were informed about the mystery of the day, tested blessed gatas, which became an evidence for passing the second half of Great Lent and to celebrate Easter with Christian Love.
The clergy of the churches expressed their gratitude to godfathers of cross of the year for their support to the celebration of the Mijink feast.
On March 3, 2022, the 180th anniversary of the famous Armenian entrepreneur and philanthropist, one of the richest men of his era, who had the ‘’king of oil’’ nickname Alexander Mantashyants was celebrated.
The courtyard of Saint Etchmiadzin church of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, where the symbolic tombstone of the great benefactor is and the bust the devotee of patriotism is erected, was crowded.
In anniversary celebration of the worthy son of the nation, great patriot, devoted philanthropist Alexander Mantashyants, with the blessings of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan, under the leadership of Rev. Father Samvel Torosyan, with the participation of clergy and deacons, a Requiem Service was offered for the peace of the great benefactor’s soul.
Rev. Father Samvel touched upon Mantashyants’s life and activity, reminded of the great deeds carried out by the great sponsor dictated to him by his heart and wise foresight. Guided by the importance of education, enlightenment and cultural development, the great philanthropist ensured education and progress of gifted youth, thus paving the way for the country’s development, prosperity and progress. With the dictates of his heart, Alexander Mantashyants lived sowing seeds of kindness and spreading charity.
Those present censed and prayed, afterwards laid flowers on the pedestal of Alexander Mantashyants’s bust, paying tribute to the memory of Alexander Mantashyants, the man who symbolizes charity and humanity, proud of whom are not only Armenians from Georgia, but also from all over the world.