Sameba, the religious heart of Tbilisi and Georgia
Built in the last few years with money partly given by the new Prime Minister, soon to be president(2013), Bidzina Ivanishvili, this beautiful set of buildings, as well as the main church, is really a wonderful place to visit!
You get to Sameba by going up a very very steep hill, so it is a good idea to first stop at the little shops down below in the Avlabari neighborhood and load up on khatchapuri..You will need the calories! They make a fantastic lobiani, the bread stuffed with beans. Only buy it if it is hot. Otherwise, it is dry and not so great.
Sameba is surrounded by lesser churches within the site. They are also worth seeing.
You enter through a massive door and on both sides, you have possibilities to buys "santelis", or little candles, to put in front of the icons. Ladies are ok to come in head uncovered, but it is better to have a scarf handy, or you will feel out of place.
I entered Sameba for the first time with my sister-in-law Nana, at the height of a service. It is strange, for a person who is non-orthodox, to see that while the office is going, and the priest is reciting its litanies, the people are in constant movement around the interior of the cathedral, saluting and praying in front of the icons. Those icons are magnificent, and that is not enough of a word, really. They area larger than life-size...
Judge for yourself!This one, of the Archangel Michael is literally THICK with gold!
|Saint Georges, of course! |
He always has a red cape.
That is how you will recognize him..
It is an interesting experience, to be welcomed in a church which is not of "your religion". I am not a practicing Catholic, let's make that clear, but well, the mysticism associated with religion is certainly source for questions. Did you know that the Orthodox is the one religion (except for budhism, but that is not considered a true religion, rather a way of life) that didn't kill or start wars because or for its religious beliefs?
ARDGOMA means Easter in Georgian
So, in this time of Easter (celebrated on May 5th this year in Georgia), things are heavy in the life of a practicing Orthodox. Meat is not eaten, fat is not permitted either, so no animal products, cheese or cheese products either. There is even a period when ladies are not allowed to garden, or to touch the earth. So, people replace meat with soko (mushrooms) and make wonderful dishes with those.
|This is Easter Bread, or "paska". |
A sweet buttery bread..
Easter is however a time for rejoice, one of the great days in the Georgian calendar. People go to the sasaplao (cemetery) and clean up the tombs, take out the weeds and plant lovely flowers. They also make it a family gathering around the tombs and bring a feast to be shared with the departed.
We were very lucky to see Sameba tonight while the church's rugs were being washed outside. What a pleasure of colors charmed our eyes!
|The rugs are drying|
after a deep cleaning
with soap and a high pressure hose!
Keep in mind those are very, very old rugs.
To say nothing of the price they must have cost..
These are what we describe as "Persian rugs"
in the Western society. They are amazing up close.
I counted over 20 of those rugs,
and I just assume not all of them were out at once..
I love this pic! If I had been able to stay longer, I would have nailed the shot a little better, but the person washing the rug was just above with a firehose!! And water was coming out of it, of course...
St Georges and his red cape again..
What a beautiful view in the evening sun!
If you are visiting Sameba someday, don't miss going to the little restaurant at the bottom of the staircase that sells lemonades. There, try the one with "tarhuna". Let me know what you think!
Cemeteries are an odd thing in Georgia, but they have a certain peaceful feeling.
Here is what happens at Easter time.
No one would think of NOT doing this..
Irises are all cleaned up in the tombs of Tamazi's parents. Every tomb has a table next to it, so that the family can come and have a meal with the departed. Wine will also be shared with them, poured over the graves and a great toast pronounced.
This lady was buried in Koda, a small village on the plateau that overlooks Tbilisi. It was over a hundred years ago..or so. She is as beautiful in death as she was in life.
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