LOCAL TRADITIONS AND CELEBRATIONS

Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, especially Mukhuri and surrounding villages, are known for their ancient traditional holidays and customs.

Chkhorotskuoba (The day of Chkhorotsku)

In the city of Chkhorotsku, on the central street, every year on the first weekend of November, different types of cultural-educational and sports events, open fairs, meetings, exhibitions, concerts, and other events are held. During this celebration, traditional local dishes are prepared, and honorary residents of Chkhorotsku are solemnly awarded.

Menchurua

Old Colchic fighting style in the water, water wrestling, and a tradition that has been revived in Mukhuri in the last few years. In general, the tradition is more than 3 thousand years old and it is held in clean, fresh, and deep water. The competition/tournament is held under the bridge (Natskha Bridge) in the village of Mukhuri in the second half of August every year. According to the rules, opponents swim towards each other and try to submerge the opponent’s head in the water. The one who gets submerged first loses.

Attitude towards the guests

 Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, and especially the village of Mukhuri is known for its hospitality. A tradition was established among the local population, according to which no guest should’ve left the host’s house without drinking wine. At the end of the feast, they saw-off the guests towards the exit gate, and those who were seen to be sober were asked one by one to empty their glasses. Locals had special attitudes towards guests who came for a sudden and short visit, who were served right at the gates with vodka and nuts as a sign of goodwill.

Religious Celebrations

Mukhuri is also famous for various religious festivals which have been celebrated since ancient times.

Giorgoba Celebration (St. George’s Day)

In the neighboring village of Mukhuri, in Taia, the day of commemoration of St. George is celebrated on November 23 every year. The Christian holiday is connected to the Otsindale Monastery of St. George, located 2.5 kilometers from the village of Taia. First of all, a mass and prayers were held in the Otsindale Monastery, and then the locals and guests were involved in various sports activities throughout the day. It is especially worth noting that on this day traditionally, “Marula” (a national type of horse racing) was historically held in the village of Taia, in which horsemen from all parts of the region took part.

Ancestral holiday of Bendeliyans

It is celebrated in the village of Mukhuri on Monday of the 2nd week after Easter every year, during which an ancestral prayer is held.

Feast of the Ascension

It is celebrated on the 40th day after Easter in the neighboring village of Zumi. On this day, the villagers have a feast in every family and welcome guests with great joy and noise. Specifically, there is a Church named after the Virgin Mary in the village of Zumi. In the village, the holiday traditionally started with mass and prayers, and then different types of sports and cultural events were held. Today, this tradition is practiced in an altered form and is celebrated only by receiving guests.

Ancestral holiday of Tolordavas

In the village of Mukhuri, it is celebrated every year on the first Sunday after St. Mary’s Day (August 28). At this time, the representatives of the lineage gather at the line cross and perform the family prayer.

Epiphany

The religious holiday was actively celebrated in the village of Mukhuri every year on January 19, the day of Epiphany. On this day, the local population together with the pilgrims performed a cleansing ritual in the Khobistskhali river.

Ancestral holidays

Historically, this or that family had a designated Patron Saint and an Icon. Despite the Soviet period, most of the families kept these traditions. During the last years, this tradition was revived thanks to the Patriarch of Georgia and the Georgian Church.

Local Cuisine

The village of Mukhuri was traditionally known for animal husbandry, especially cattle and goat breeding, which played a significant role in the variety of cuisine. One of the peculiarities of Megrelian cuisine is the spiciness of its dishes, especially spicy garnishes, Megrelian Adjika, and others.

Ghomi

Megrelian cuisine begins with Ghomi, which before the introduction of maize corn was made from the fruit of the Ghomi plant. Ghomi is used as a daily dish in Samegrelo, and in many instances is used to even replace bread. Ghomi is an accompaniment to many other dishes.

Megrelian Suluguni

 One of the distinctive features of Megrelian cuisine is the variety of cheese. The people of Samegrelo usually eat it daily with hot Ghomi.

Megrelian Ajika

It is one of the traditional spicy types of seasonings in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti. It is made from herbs, garlic, bitter pepper, and nuts. It is used for seasoning and eaten with local dishes. It is mainly prepared in Summer.

Megrelian Kvari with Cheese

It is made from wheat flour, dough, and cottage cheese. Like Khachapuri, it is an almost daily dish for the locals, which is often served to guests as well.

Elarji

Its origin is related to shepherds staying in the mountains for a long time. When the local herds migrated to the mountains, the shepherds had to stay there for months, so it was difficult to take enough coarse maize corn flour with them. As to cheese, they made it on the spot. Accordingly, they were the first in the mountains to start making Elarji from coarse corn flour and cheese. Today, Elarji is one of the special and distinctive dishes that are prepared for holidays or guests.

Megrelian Khachapuri

It is prepared with dough made from wheat flour and new cheese, and a mixture of new cheese and egg on the top. For the locals in Mukhuri, it can be said that it is both a part of the daily and celebratory feasts at the same time.

Jurjani (Hot Pluck)

It is a hot dish made from the entrails of beef. Finely chopped intestines are boiled and seasoned with savory, garlic, hot pepper, and other spices. It is a greasy dish and is served with Ghomi. It is an essential part of festive tables.

Smoked Suluguni

It is made from Megrelian Suluguni, it was smoked in Patskhas (wattle hut) over a fire. Due to the Megrelian way of life, Sulguni was hoisted up on the ceiling in the Patskha, where it was constantly exposed to the smoke coming from the center of the fire, thanks to which the cheese was dried, was preserved for a long time, and exhibited a special taste.

Megrelian Satsivi

The dish is made with walnut and turkey and is the main dish on the New Year’s table. People eat it separately or together with Ghomi. It is worth noting that the locals still actively collect walnuts in the Khobistskhali Valley.

Kachabe

Pickled slightly damp Pkhali (traditional Georgian dish of chopped and minced vegetables, made of spinach, beans, beets and combined with ground walnuts, vinegar, onions, garlic, and herbs), diced and seasoned with nutty spices. It is eaten with Gohmi. It is a daily food of the locals, but in many cases, it also decorates festive tables.

Satsmeli

A local juicy hot dish made from boiled chicken meat, spices, and corn flour. Tomatoes are added and eaten with Ghomi. It is an everyday winter dish.

Chincholia/Phuchkholia Cheese

It is an everyday food and is made from mint, garlic, spices, and most importantly, new cheese. It is eaten with Ghomi.

Gebjalia

It is one of the distinctive dishes of the Megrelian cuisine, which was prepared on holidays or for special guests. It is made from fresh unsalted cheese, mint, spices, and crushed pepper.

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