Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ormotsi, Lenjeri, mid-Feb. 2011

Ormotsi is the Georgian word for 40.  This feast, held all over this part of the world, is 40 days from the death of someone.  First there is the funeral feast (gasveneba), then this one, then another a year after death (ts'lis tavi).  Except here in Svaneti, between the funeral & 40-day feast, there must be more, more... a feast for every Saturday between those two.  no wonder the women weep and wail when someone dies - a crazy amount of work awaits the survivors, which may drive them - despite financial gifts from all guests - into debt for months or years.
This ormotsi was for our host lady's aunt, who had raised her and her siblings when their mother died young. I should have been outside with the men, but was asked by our hostess to stay indoors with my wife and the other women, to be joined by other men, who never came.  So I was an honourary woman for the occasion, and glad enough to escape the cold and araqi - Svan moonshine.
The tables are planks of wood on sawn wood legs, covered with a roll of paper bound with a long spiral of thread.  If you're a VIP you get a real metal fork, and maybe a knife; lucky, and you have a plastic fork; the most usual utensil is a piece of bread with which you pick up everything your fingers can't put straight into your mouth from your plate, the more fiddly salads or thick soups, etc.  The food will never run out, and neither will the drink, as there are countless toasts to be made, and a feast can last hours upon hours in certain situations and conditions.  Crockery is a set kept by each village for common use, plates stored in wooden boxes for every wedding or funeral.
The middle shot is the village of Lenjeri, where my wife teaches English, its school half an hour's walk from where we're staying in Mestia.   The school is so close to the Mestia sign that it almost merges with Mestia, and the location of this ormotsi is about twice as far from our house.

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