Georgia usually is associated with delicious food and beautiful dances. Not everyone knows that our country has very unique culture of sport games – Lelo Burti, Tarchia, Oghirhgalo – in each game we represent our character. Mostly, those games are associated with defeating enemies of Georgia.
By the way, it’s a kinda symbolic, due to today, at 26th of may we celebrate Independence Day of our country 🇬🇪
Today I wanna tell you about our national folk sports in Georgia.
Lelo or lelo burti (Georgian: ლელო ბურთი), literally a “field ball [playing]”, is a Georgian folk sport, which is a full contact ball game, and very similar to rugby.
Played once a year at Orthodox Easter,the game has no rules and no limit to the number of participants. On the eve of the match the entire village of Shukhuti comes to a service at the local church.
The next day, the ball is brought from Tbilisi, where a new ball is sewn every year, filled with sawdust and sand from the village.
The ball weighs 18kgs. As the locals add the sawdust filling to the ball, the local priest blesses the players
Once the ball is ready, it’s brought to the local church.
Two teams play: the objective is to push the ball into the opposing team’s end of the village. Whoever does it first, wins.
At 5pm, the priest throws the ball into the centre of the village, and the match begins.
Players are split into several categories: those who hold the ball or fight for it directly, and those who stay around the main group to direct the flow of the game.
Tradiotion of Lelo Burti is popular since 19th of century and is associated with defeating enemies of Georgia.
Not only Lelo Burti but also “Ogirhgalo” is old Georgian game, as researchers claim, It is a folk children’s game spread in different parts of Georgia. The participants are divided in
two groups and face each other at a distance of 15-20 steps. The players are holding hands tightly to each other and making a circle In a row.
The game starts after one of the team members shouts, The second team would respond and after that the caller would run away, collide with the line of opponents to break the “chain”.
If he breaks the chain, he will take one of the two players in his group. If he does not, then he will put himself in the opponents’ row. If a player deliberately does not break the line of opponents, he will be thrown out of the game. After that, the players of the opposing group start shouting “Oghirghilo”.
When all the players in one group are on the other side, the game is over. This game is often played by young people even today, Instead of a “Oghorghalo”, it is called “Whose Soul Do You Want?”
Tarchia – an old Georgian equestrian game. As a rule, its played on the field. First, 4 participants of the game will choose a referee. The referee in turn will attach a colored scarf to one of the participants’ arms (this player is also called Tarchia). Then the players move away from the participant 100 metres and the game starts at the referee’s mark.
The aim of the game is to catch up with Tarchia, who tries in every way to get rid of the followers and return the scarf to the referee. If a player manages to do so, he is declared the winner.
Chorola – the oldest Georgian game with a ball and a stick. It looked like grass hockey. It was spread mostly in Kakheti and Samegrelo.
There were 6-10 participants in the team. The goal of the players was to throw the ball into the “door” with a stick. Sticks usually were made from Oak.
The game had two referees and meeting usually lasted until sunset.
So, as you may see, Georgian culture is not only about having delicious food and beautiful dances, we also have unique sport games which represent our character and culture even better.
All the best,