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Vardavar – Armenian Traditional Water Festival

Vartavar (also known as Vardevar or Vardavar, Armenian: Վարդավառ or Վարդևար) is a festival in Armenia where people of all ages drench each other with water. Its name is a derivative from “vard” in Armenian, which stands for “rose” in English.

Although now a Christian tradition, Vardavar’s history dates back to pagan times. The ancient festival is traditionally associated with the goddess Astghik, who was the goddess of water, beauty, love and fertility. The festivities associated with this religious observance of Astghik were named “Vartavar” because Armenians offered her roses as a celebration (“vart” means “rose” in and “var” mean “rise”), this is why it was celebrated in the harvest time.

Vardavar is currently celebrated 98 days (14 weeks) after Easter. During the day of Vardevar, people from a wide array of ages are allowed to douse strangers with water. It is common to see people pouring buckets of water from balconies on unsuspecting people walking below them. The festival is very popular among children as it is one day where they can get away with pulling pranks. It is also a means of refreshment on the usually hot and dry summer days of July.

All Original Photos of Vardavar >
© Photos by Narek Harutyunyan

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