02 июля 2016 | Latest news

The Vardavar Survival Guide

The Vardavar Survival Guide
1: You will be drenched in water all day from all directions so just take it all in, or stay dry at home. Remember, water does not discriminate, so pleading to not get watered may not work.


2: If you are in a car, marshutka, or bus, open windows and doors are a popular target for watering so beware.


3: Before leaving your house, waterproof your wallet, phone, electronics, etc… Anything you don’t to get, just leave at home if possible. Some like to put their phones in a ziplock type of bag and remove all the air (not 100% guaranteed). If you have a GoPro, charge your battery and get ready to post some awesome photos and footage of this annual Armenian water-fight.


4: Don’t forget to protect your skin and wear sunscreen. Water magnifies sunlight, which may put your skin at more risk for a big burn.


5: Wearing white or see-thru clothing is not the most preferable in the case of Vardavar, and the same goes for high heels, and any sandals that are prone to slippage. Wearing make-up may also be useless, so let your natural beauty shine!


6: Karapi Leech or Swan Lake is a popular destination in Yerevan during Vardavar, but to avoid getting thrown in the Lake, don’t get too close because if you are seen by a mob of teenagers, the chances are you won’t be able to outrun them.


7: Get a bucket of your own and join in on the fun, and/or form a mob of your own.


8: If you can make it to Garni Temple to witness the ancient Pagan water blessing, don’t miss the chance.


History of Vardavar:

India is a popular destination for the Rangwali Holi Festival of colors in the springtime. People travel from all over the world to watch the entire country and other regions of South Asia burst with a vast array of colors of the spectrum. Typically, people gather the night before around a bonfire to commence a sacred ritual, and the next day or two, they throw bags of dyed powder at each other to symbolize the colors of life and love.


Here in Armenia we have Vardavar, and there is no where else in the world like it. Nowadays, Vardavar is known to be the greatest nationwide water-fight in history. Many kids and especially teenagers wait and prepare for this day all year, because it is practically the only day they can throw buckets of water at any one they please, and they will not get in trouble. It’s quite satisfying to say the least.


Vardavar is a light-hearted a day of freedom, laughter, unity, innocence, forgiveness, relief, and healing. The throwing of the water signifies the blessing of one person to another, and the roots of this holiday, like the vast majority of Armenian Christian holidays, are Pagan. It is celebrated on the 14th Sunday after Easter, and in the northern regions of Armenia, it is celebrated about 16 weeks after Easter.


During Pagan era, the Vardavar holiday was celebrated to pay tribute the Goddess/Deity  Astghik, the Goddess of water and water sources, fertility, beauty, and love. It was recorded that the skylight had been considered her personification (as Astghik means star or little star). The legends reveal that Astghik had fallen in love with the Armenian Pagan God/Deity Vahagn, the God of fire, thunder, lighting, and war. She would send him sweet messages by throwing roses into the river to flow down to him, as he knew she ruled the river. The word Vardavar actually derives from the word rose, as Vard/Vart means rose in Armenian. One legend even says that her worship was derived from the two Indian princes who took refuge in the region of Armenia.


According to tradition, Astghik spread love in Armenian land as a result of her devotion to her beloved God, Vahagn, who protected and preserved their love. According to another tradition, Noah, descending from the ark which had landed on Mount Ararat after the flood, orders his sons to spray water at each other in the memory of the flood.


At the historic Garni Temple in Armenia, just a 45 minute drive from Armenia’s Capital Yerevan, a rose filled water blessing and spraying is carried out by the Pagan priests that still carry on the ancient Armenian rituals from the Pagan era. After the blessing is commenced, local dancers perform in traditional costumes, an animal sacrifice is made (not for the faint of heart), and the celebrations begin as everyone starts drenching each other in blessed healing waters.


Water has been a healing mechanism in human history for ages. Also known as hydrotherapy, there is a numerous amount of research that proves that water can be used as an alternative medicine for relieving pain, whether it be emotional or physical. Even more studies have come up to show that the actual attitude one has toward water may affect the attitude of the person consuming it, and that water has memory. Since the human body is made up of well over 70% water, it makes us wonder what our ancient ancestors really knew, and what they were trying to tell us through these various rituals and celebrations that are still standing today.


It is said that if it rains during the night of Vardavar (or the next night), followed by thunder and lightning, the God Vahagn and Goddess Astghik are communicating that they are pleased, and that the forthcoming year will be prosperous and protected with a full harvest to come. After all, Astghik is the Goddess of fertility, and when she is happy, the crops are full.


By Ani Carla Kalafian


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