Udzilaurta, 26-27 July 1997
After leaving Cixetgori, people cross the Ak’ushos-qevi and pitch camp on the summit of Iremtk’alo, overlooking Shuapxo
The mountain shrine (samto salocavi) of Udzilaurt commune at Iremtk’alo
Tavqevisberi Ioseb K’och’lishvili
The story of how K’op’ala destroyed the ogres’ castle at Cixetgori with a boulder thrown from Iremtk’alo
The banner (drosha) of Ber-K’op’ala
As the sun begins to appear over the mountains, Ioseb prepares for the morning ceremony (dilis rigi).
Lighting candles in the candle-altar (sasantle).
Ringing the bell at sunrise
The sign of the cross (pir-jvari)
After the prayer is finished, the guests call upon K’op’ala and the other xvtishvilni to aid and protect the commune and all of Georgia.
Ram and bull offered for sacrifice.
One quarter of bread offerings (kada-p’uri) is kept by the shrine.
At the campsite below the shrine, people begin making xink’ali with the meat from sacrificed animals.
Georgian and Daghestanian xink’ali
Setting up the saq’eino bowl in commemoration of the p’iroplianni
The xink’ali are ready to eat (with bare hands only, no matter how hot they are!)
Folklorist Zurab K’ik’nadze
The riders go to a marker at the other end of the meadow, circle it three times, line up, then begin the race at the sound of the bell.
After the race the mxedrebi circle the shrine 3x. The winner receives a canister of beer as a prize, which he shares out to those present.
The qevisberi drinks the first toast at each banquet.
The late Edisher Gareq’anidze, his daughter and their ensemble entertained the banqueters with wonderful polyphonic singing.
As sunset approaches, Ioseb returns to the sazare and rings the bell.
The qevisperi prays, then calls the men to dance the perquli
Lead by Ioseb, the men circle the shrine three times while singing the perquli
The people begin the descent from Iremtk’alo to the campsite near the main shrine.
We stop for a brief prayer and drinks at the small forest shrine Sak’virao
Udzilaurt, Sunday 27 July 1997
The next morning qevisberi Ioseb K’och’lishvili prepares to receive offerings at the communal shrine (satemo xat’i) of Ber-K’op’ala
Women’s scarves and other cloth items (sak’adrisebi) offered to the sanctuary
Around mid-day, the qevisberi escorts four women and guests to a shrine on a ridge opposite the village Udzilaurta
The village Udzilaurta
At the shrine of the Mother of God, the qevisberi instructs the women to wait outside the gate; only the men may approach the sanctuary.
The bell is rung and the women’s offerings are presented to the Mother of God
Outside the gate, the qevisberi prays for the new members of the commune
A Caucasian nagazi makes our acquaintance (and steals the best-tasting slice of kada-p’uri I’ve ever tasted)
The women (and their new friend) return from the shrine by a lower path than the men
The begheli (granary for wheat and barley from the sanctuary’s fields).
The qevisberi rings the bell at the main shrine and brings out the drosha at the end of the festival
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