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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Role of Beer in Georgian Khevsur people traditions

Many important festivities or cult rituals were connected with beer in Georgia. Specifically in Khevsureti, a region in Georgia. Here is a description on one such tradition (published at the website of a major beer producer in Georgia, JSC Kazbegi).


"In village Akhieli, they put up a show depicting "kidnapping". They formed two groups, one of them would kidnap a woman, and the other would be "fighting" them. In this theatrical show, one man had to be "wounded" and as a treatment, he had to take beer. As for the "kidnapped woman", she would also be offered some beer to drink. Even women who were mourning were involved in this cheerful game and the beer they drank would symbolize respect towards them and the relief of their grief. One oldest tradition was initiation, i.e. declaration of maturity of an adolescent. In Khevsureti the youngster at the age of fourteen was allowed to drink beer. It meant that this person would belong to the list of beer drinkers so that during the brewing process he would be taken into account. Small children were also given a little mug of beer during festivities and they would be marked with coal on the forehead, so that they did not drink a second mug.

One oldest tradition was initiation, i.e. declaration of maturity of an adolescent. In Khevsureti the youngster at the age of fourteen was allowed to drink beer. It meant that this person would belong to the list of beer drinkers so that during the brewing process he would be taken into account. Small children were also given a little mug of beer during festivities and they would be marked with coal on the forehead, so that they did not drink a second mug.



The ritual and cult function of beer is closely connected with Georgian beer drinking vessels, the most important of which is a specially adorned silver bowl, the so-called chalice, decorated with different jewelry: silver coins, chains and some other accessories coming from a Georgian national costume.





GEORGIA ON MY MIND!