The Vardavar Festival

At the end of the flood, Noah left the Ark and descended from Mt Ararat to an area now called Nakhichevan. In this area today the land remains abundant in alkaline soil due to the salty flood waters that once covered the earth. The area is a sacred ground, because the father of mankind settled and later died there.

To commemorate the Great Flood, each year on the same day Noah would order his sons, who were also residents of Nakhichevan, to splash water on each other. On the same day, in memory of the dove that had brought Noah an olive leaf (to signify that land was clear of water); they released doves into the sky at the same time they splashed each other.

It is indicated in the Old Armenian Calendar that this was done in the month of Navasard (August). In this month the residents of Nakhichevan also showed respect and celebrated the goddess of love, beauty and water—‘Astghik’, who beautified herself with roses.
Therefore on that special day in August, the residents unified the three rituals—they would splash each other with water; release doves and also throw rose petals at each other, in respect to Astghik.

This special day of celebration is what Armenians call Vardavar (Rose Festival), which still happens to this day in Armenia. Many visitors to Armenia are taken by surprise when on a particular day in August the locals happily splash buckets of water at each other, usually in the most unexpected places. They follow this by releasing doves and spreading rose petals. Along with this fun festival there comes a peaceful time when mutual grievances are forgotten.

It is said that the people who end the day having been splashed with water, are cleansed of dirt and corruption. That, along with doves flying and rose petals strewn, the people’s faces are transformed.

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