Discover diversity

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Image Cultural diversity has contributed greatly to the formation and development of the Georgian culture. At the same time, however, certain barriers emerged in relations, hindering dialogue between representatives of various cultures residing in Georgia. As a result, we received a form of peaceful coexistence, where groups of people of various nationalities and cultures lived as secluded communities. However, it is very important in the process of building democracy that all citizens of a country have the sentiment of being full members of the public who are able to use their capabilities.

It was responding to this need that the Mziani Sakhli (Sunny House) nongovernmental organisation implemented the Youths beyond Cross-Cultural Barriers project with support of the Council of Europe Information Bureau.

Image “Discover Diversity” is the name of an event held at the Karvasla exhibition centre in Tbilisi, Georgia on 9 December 2007. Elements of various national cultures - Azeri, Armenian, Georgian, Polish, Yezidi Kurd, Kist and Chechen, Ossetian, Ukrainian, German, Russian, and Greek clothes, cuisines, musical instruments, and historical books - made an indelible impression.

The Azeri cultural section decorated with carpets treated visitors to baklava, pilaw, and tea, and kilims attracted special attention of visitors.

The Armenian section presented Armenian pita, national duduk, an 18th-century Bible, and Davit Sasunts folk epic poem.

Image Females clothed in national dresses called Kiloc could be seen in the Yezidi Kurd section. They treated visitors to kadas and kasha named karchika. Their chief angel - Peacock Melek Tawus - could be seen on the table.

Youths clothed in Ossetian dresses showed us their folk arts and hand-woven carpets, treating visitors to Ossetian beer and khachapuri made of cabbage and beet (khabizgina).


The Kist culture section was also interesting, presenting 2nd-century hand-made items, lambswool felt, national halva called zeka, and a collection of verses by Kist Suleiman Gumashvili (who writes poems in Georgian) entitled “My Chechnya”.

The Polish section presented smiling children - students of the Polonia Georgian-Polish educational union - dressed in national clothes. They eagerly told us stories about Polish Queen Jadwiga and familiarised us with Polish culture.

Such a variety of cultures in this small area gave rise to positive emotions, increasing the degree of tolerance in the multiethnic Georgian society.

A live library should be regarded as an important component of the event. Readers could register and choose a desirable book from the catalogue. The difference was that it was living people, not books, who spoke to us about their own history, culture, traditions, and experience.

“Georgia is a tolerant country, where there are representatives of various cultures. However, they do not know each other well. This idea serves to draw them closer, familiarise them with each other, and promote cooperation between them. Mziani Sakhli held first such event in 2004 albeit at a smaller scale. At that time, we did not have the live library, which means that people themselves are books. We contacted representatives of almost all ethnic minorities, but not all of them managed to participate in this event. All of them nevertheless need attention,” said Nino Gogoladze, a members of the Mziani Sakhli NGO board.

Ilgar Tangirvediani – Coordinator of Cultural Department of Civil Integration Fund. We present the Azerbaijanian Culture in this event. The same event was held before too, but today the cultural sides of national minorities residing in Georgia are presented with a large scale and it is good. This type of events must be organized not only in Tbilisi, but also in other Regions. You can see books of Azerbaijanian philosophers, writers, drawings, carpets in our regions. We will offer you our national meals: Pakhlava, Plavi, Halva (try to add something else), tea. I am glad the Armenian region is at our side too. The members of our organization visited them and they offered us their national meals. This event makes these two national minorities become better friends to each other. We inform each other about our culture and we would like to have a relationship to all the people.

Shlava Mezhdoiani – Member of Georgian – Armenian Union.
Our organization works on issues of integration of Youth and Armenian Society. We have the Armenian Language Courses. We present Armenian books, Bible, carpets and national meals. It is very interesting that the Azerbaijanian side is presented at our side. We would like to tell thanks to its organizers. I think this idea concerns to solving the problem that exists between the national minorities. We are different and such type of events will support to our integration to each other and becoming familiar to each other’s cultures.

The aforementioned event enabled its participants to become familiarised with the life of national and ethnic minorities residing in our country, Georgia’s cultural diversity, the peculiar features that make them different and distinguished, and the similarities that connect us with each other.