This past weekend, the capital of Georgia celebrated the city holiday – Tbilisoba. This holiday, founded back in Soviet times, has become so loved by the people, that no sort of political squabbles or foul weather can interfere with it taking place. Journalist
prepared a special report on Tbilisoba for Meydan TV.
According to established tradition, Tbilisoba is held in the old town, where past meets present. The city takes off on a trip through time: artisans and merchants wander through cobbled streets, princesses and their suitors glance out from balconies, a carriage moves slowly down the causeway, and the autumn breeze carries along the sounds of barrel organs and ashiqs. The epicenter of the celebration is Meidan, a square that has been famous since the medieval period. It was at one point a trading space, at another – an arena for martial tournaments, and beginning in the 1960s it was transformed into the tourist center of the Georgian capital.
According to custom, people from all corners of Georgia gather for the celebration and represent their region, traditions and lifestyle. The Azerbaijani diaspora takes a very active role.
Abanotubani is the heart of Tbilisi. This is the unique quarter of the sulfur baths, constructed in the 17
centuries and densely populated by Azerbaijanis, Kurds and Georgians. As such, it’s not by accident that this is where the “Azerbaijani corner” is set up.
“Georgia is our homeland and it’s no surprise that we take part in the celebration”, said
, a representative of the council of elders of the Azerbaijanis of Georgia. He told how meticulously the Azerbaijani diaspora prepared for this event.
“We are not guests or spectators here, we are full citizens of Georgia” emphasized Mr. Novruzov. Our discussion was joined by his deputy
: “Our prophet Muhammed said that a holiday is when you yourself are joyful, when you eat or drink alone, but when you bring joy to another”.
This was a day full of joy and merriment. Musicians from Marneuli, Lagodekhi, Rustavi, and Gardabani took places playing on an improvised stage. The young song-and-dance ensemble Jeiran enjoyed particular success, receiving applause from both residents and foreign guests of Georgia’s capital.
“Our folklore ensemble was established 16 years ago and since that time we have been permanent participants of the celebration” said the collective’s leader,
. According to her, it’s very important that ethnic Azerbaijanis not forget their national roots and honor the memory of their ancestors.
The ensemble’s soloist,
was ecstatic about the event. “I am happy that I have the opportunity to represent our customs, traditions, songs and dances. We toured throughout all of Georgia and even performed in Baku”, she said and kindly agreed to be photographed as a keepsake.
, perhaps, looked the most ‘serious’ on that day. This young man captivated everyone, playing the tar and putting his entire soul into it. It seemed that he was trying to surpass everything he’d done before, and in this he succeeded!
No celebration in Georgia can go without a feast. The grand-master for the gastronomic part of the Azerbaijani corner was
, a chef with 35 years of experience. He lives in Marneuli and, according to visitors’ reviews, prepares the most delicious lyulya-kebab in the region. He is such a skilled master of his art that he was even invited to work as head chef in one of the Tbilisi restaurants specializing in Azerbaijani cuisine. “I am a happy person,” admits Ismail, “I have a large family, I love my profession, and I love Georgia as well. There came a time when I was forced to work in Russia, but I couldn’t hold out there for long. Georgia drew me back, I can’t imagine my life without it”.
The Azerbaijani corner was visited by the Mayor of Tbilisi,
. By the way, the capital’s mayor’s office allocated a little more than 1,000,000 lari (around €400,000) for the city holiday. This time, as on other occasions, the Tbilisoba holiday was loaded with various events: community gatherings, theatrical performances, concerts, exhibitions, athletic games, wine tastings…
The Mirza Fatali Akhundov Tbilisi Azerbaijani Culture Center, also located in the city’s old town, held an open-door day to coincide with Tbilisoba. I met with its director,
. We spoke at length about prominent Azerbaijani public figures, who tied their life and creative fates in with Georgia. And I unwittingly remembered the words of the poet Mirza Shafi Vazekha, which are fitting for the celebration that took place: “A happy man is he who is rich with kindness, who thrives on his own, and who is gladdened by another’s happiness.”