- Title: Georgian Orthodox Christians mark Christmas with colourful processions
- Date: 7th January 2017
- Summary: TBILISI, GEORGIA (JANUARY 7, 2017) (REUTERS) WIDE OF GEORGIAN CHRISTMAS "ALILO" PROCESSION MOVING THROUGH TBILISI CENTRAL STREET OXES PULLING WOODEN CARTS WITH CHILDREN CHILDREN DRESSED IN WHITE AND WEARING WREATHS WALKING HOLDING HANDS PROCESSION MOVING THROUGH STREET PROCESSION PASSING BY CHRISTMAS TREE ON TBILISI CENTRAL SQUARE (SOUNDBITE) (Georgian) GEORGIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST BIDZINA GUNIA, SAYING: "After a festive prayer service we are paying tribute to this great day with this procession. Let Georgia be blessed, let Georgia and our nation be united." PRIESTS CARRYING ICON (SOUNDBITE) (Georgian) ALILO PROCESSION PARTICIPANT, SOLOMON GELASHVILI, SAYING: "This day is a beginning of a new life, a faith and a survival." PRIESTS LEADING PROCESSION PEOPLE WEARING ROBES AND CARRYING GEORGIAN FLAGS MEN DRESSED IN HISTORIC COSTUMES CARRYING CAMEL DUMMY CAMEL DUMMY AND VIEW OF SQUARE ELEPHANT DUMMY MOVING THROUGH STREET PROCESSION PARTICIPANTS CARRYING GEORGIAN FLAGS PROCESSION WITH CHILDREN AT THE HEAD MOVING ALONG STREET GEORGIAN FLAGS
- Embargoed: 22nd January 2017 14:17
- Keywords: Georgia Christmas Orthodox Tbilisi procession Alilo
- Location: TBILISI, GEORGIA
- City: TBILISI, GEORGIA
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0015Y2YAMX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Georgian worshippers celebrated Orthodox Christmas in the capital Tbilisi on Saturday (January 7) with a colourful costumed procession called "Alilo".
Some participants wore national costumes, others depicted Biblical characters from the nativity story, such as shepherds, soldiers or religious figures.
Several thousand Orthodox Georgians led by clergy walked through central Tbilisi, stopping from time to time to collect presents and donations from different organisations, politicians and the public.
The centuries-old tradition was banned in the Soviet times, but memory of it was passed from generation to generation.
Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II revived the Alilo charity tradition after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Georgia proclaimed independence.
"After a festive prayer service we are paying tribute to this great day with this procession. Let Georgia be blessed, let Georgia and our nation be united," said the procession participant and Georgian Orthodox priest Bidzina Gunia.
"This day is a beginning of a new life, a faith and a survival," said Solomon Gelashvili, while walking with fellow believers and carrying his little daughter.
Similar costumed marches took place on Christmas day in most of towns and villages across Georgia, which was the second country after Armenia to adopt Christianity as its state religion in the beginning of the fourth century.
Orthodox Christianity has become a symbol of national identity and unity for Georgians, after the turbulent years following the declaration of the country's independence.
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