Armenian Gata Festival held in Akhalkalak

Akhalkalak hosted the Armenian Gata Festival at the Holy Cross Church for the sixth time. The beautiful initiative that was undertaken a couple of years ago has turned into a tradition. As reported the press divan of the Vicariate of the Prelacy of Javakhk to Hayern Aysor, this year, landladies decided to amaze everyone with the beauty and charm of various types of gatas.

The event began with a solemn liturgy officiated by Vicar of the General Prelacy of Samtskhe-Javakhk and Tsalka, Rev. Fr. Archimandrite Babken Salbiyan and served by the spiritual pastors of Akhalkalak and nearby villages, including Fr. Senior Priest Yeghishe Harutyunyan and Fr. Priest Tatev Marukyan and pastor of Diliska and nearby villages, Fr. Priest Tigran Mkhitaryan. The liturgy continued with a brief overview of the Median Day of Great Lent (Mijink) and the Armenian Gata Festival  traditionally held in Javakhk) and was followed by a musical performance by Arma Galoyan, who had made a pilgrimage to Javakhk.

For the past two years, the festival has featured performances by the Araratian Patriarchal Diocese’s Tsaghkazard Armenian Ensemble, which was performing in Javakhk with the support of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia and with the blessing of Vicar of the General Prelacy of Samtskhe-Javakhk and Tsalka, Rev. Fr. Archimandrite Babken Salbiyan. The concert ended with a ceremony of blessing of the gatas by clergymen.

In addition to certificates of appreciation, the participating ladies and women also received aprons with the picture of an Armenian Gata from the Support to Javakhk Foundation. The certificates of appreciation were granted by the Reverend with the help of the children of the Armenian Sunday school adjunct to the Holy Cross Church of Akhalkalak. At the end of the event, Rev. Babken gave his blessing and expressed his words of appreciation. He congratulated the guests, supporters and attendees on holding another Armenian Gata Festival and gave his blessing and expressed his appreciation to the staff of the Ministry of Diaspora, namely Minister Hranush Hakobyan; the staff of the Support to Javakhk Foundation, namely Executive Director Ashot Hakobyan and godfather of the Holy Cross Church of Akhalkalak in 2017 Aghasi Karabekyan for promoting the festival and supporting the Holy Cross Church. One of the best gatas (Armenian sweet bread) was sent to RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan as a token of appreciation of the people of Javakhk for helping organize the festival.

The number of participants is growing every year. This year, there were more than 50 gatas presented at the festival.

Among the attendees were Mitropolit Nikoloz Patchuashvili of the Georgian Orthodox Church in Akhalkalak and Kumordo; representatives of the RA Ministry of Diaspora; Executive Director of the Support to Javakhk Foundation Ashot Hakobyan; officials; cultural figures; the Zartonk Armenian Dance Ensemble of the Vicariate of the Prelacy of Samtskhe-Javakhk and Tsalka and Vachian Armenian Dance Ensemble (artistic director and dance instructor Naslet Kehyan), as well as pilgrims from Yerevan, Gyumri and various regions of Georgia. Armenian Gata Festivals have also been held at the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in Akhaltskha, the St. Sargis Church in Ninotsminda and the Holy Cross Church in Khando.