Iranian Georgians visit their historic homeland after centuries
23 June, 2016
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A few days ago a new project was initiated in Georgia, which envisages teaching Georgian language and Georgian folk music to 12 ethnic Georgians who live in Fereydan, Iran, also known as Iranian Georgians. Centuries ago thousands of Georgians were relocated by force under the order of Shah Abbas I, king of Iran in 16-17 centuries. Georgia was a subject to Iran back then. Here we offer touching and honest interviews of their ancestors who came to their homeland for the first time after so many years. Here we present to you a video where they perform famous Georgian song Suliko.

Zviad Tomaradze, the head of Demographic Society of Georgia:

" Last year, when visiting Fereydan, I promised Georgians living there that I would help them to leran Georgian language. So then I wrote a project, which was then funded by the Foundation of Youth and Children Development. During 2 months we will host 12 Georgians from Fereydan. They will have an opportunity to learn Georgian language and folk music at Public School No 1. We took them to excursions and showed them Mtskheta, Chargali and Ananuri", - Zviad Tomaradze says.

The encounter with Fereydan Georgians was very interesting. The head of the group, Hadi Lachinan turned out to be the descendant of Bagrationi royal family and his real name is Archil Bagrationi. He came to Georgia together with his wife and children.

Archil Bagrationi (Hadi Lachinan):

" I live in Fereydan together with my family and my Iranian name is Hadi Lachinan. Our town is called Martkopi and it is the settlement where the most Iranian Georgians live. There are 5-6 villages nearby and they are also inhabited by Georgians. I am a descendant of Bagrationi royal family. Lachin Khan, who was Bagrationi, was resettled by force to Iran by Shah Abbas. As we know, he was a great fighter and I am his descendant. I have read numerous books about by family name and now we are writing books where we describe the genealogy of our family name. With the help of the new program 12 Georgians have come to their historic homeland. We will learn Georgian language as well as Georgian folk music. Georgian is our mother tongue and it is written on our hearts. This love comes from our hearts and I cannot describe it. Generally, Georgian is not a difficult
language but it is very different to Iranian. Besides, there is some difference between modern Georgian and the 17th century Georgian we are speaking in Fereydan. Our Georgian is the language that was passing from generation to generation and we have different accents too", - He said in the interview.
Iranian Georgians at Georgian language lesson

Archil Bagrationi says they know Georgian cuisine very well too. They take Georgioan cheese home and make excellent Khachapuri, as well as other dishes.

"Many people contact us from various corners of Georgia via social network and invite us to visit them. By the way, we bought a very good cheese in Zestafoni and my wife will prepare a good Khachapuri back home", - He added.

Most of these 12 Georgians are visiting Georgia for the first time. One of them is Tornike Batuashvili.

"When I crossed the border, my grandfathers came to my mind and I realized what it was like to be taken from your homeland. We came here because we want to know more about our historical homeland. When we crossed the Turkish border, we did not feel this was a foreign land. It is like returning to the parents’ home", - Tornike Batuashvili said. 

Archil Bagrationi’s 14-year-old son, Giorgi:

"We felt so much love when we were coming here that it felt like it took only one hour. It is hard to leave this land. I love Georgia. Very good people live here and there are uncomparable historical monuments. If Shah Abbas did not take us to Iran, we would probably not feel so much love", - The boy noted.

Author: Eka Gadakhabadze
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