New Year's greetings from Georgia!
I arrived in Tbilisi on January 6th, and after a few hours' rest my friends Paata, Berucha, Mirian & I were on our way to the (Orthodox) Christmas ceremonies at Nekrisi, the site of an ancient church and an even more ancient Zoroastrian temple in eastern Georgia. This is also the only place in the region where pigs are sacrificed in the context of a religious ritual. (Several just-so stories purport to explain the origin of the Nekrisi pig sacrifice, but none are very convincing).
Here are three pictures from my first field trip of 2006. The first was taken at a banquet at our hosts' home in Telavi (the nearest big town). The next is a photo of the shrine's candle altar. The third photo shows Simon Lomouri, 83-year-old chief priest, who has presented offerings at the Nekrisi shrine for over half a century. In order not to disturb sensitive viewers, no snuff photos of pigs being slaughtered will be shown. Suffice it to say that I have sworn off pork ... at least until Easter.
Happy New Year to all of you!
I. Christmas eve dinner at Telavi
2. The candle-altar at Nekrisi
3. "Elder" (beri) Simon Lomouri.
NEXT LETTER: FEAST OF THE DEAD SOULS IN UPPER SVANETI