Georgia Celebrates Easter: Fewer Parishioners Attend Liturgy in Churches

Orthodox Christians in Georgia are celebrating one of the most significant dates in the religious calendar - Easter.

The Holy Fire, which was descended in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 14:50 Tbilisi time yesterday, was later brought from Jerusalem to Georgia and delivered to all acting churches.

With the joint decision of the government and the patriarchate, churches were not closed for Easter night. However, this year, the celebration of Easter was different compared to the previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After many warnings and calls from state officials and healthcare sector representatives, there was a decisive lack of parishioners in churches throughout the country. 

The believers gathered in the churches before the start of the curfew at 21:00, and stayed there until 6:00 AM in order not to violate restrictions imposed within the framework of the state of emergency.

The Easter liturgy started at 23:00.

A relatively small number of parishioners were present in the main church of Tbilisi - the Holy Trinity Cathedral. 

Like the Holy Trinity Cathedral, there were also fewer-than-usual parishioners in other churches in Tbilisi. 

The same situation was seen in churches in other regions. In relatively small temples, the gates were closed for parishioners and only clergymen took part in liturgical services.

However, the Main Channel (Mtavari Arkhi) has released a video, showing a large number of parishioners gathered in Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi, Imereti region of Georgia, participating in the Easter liturgy without keeping social distance. The Main Channel reported that despite this violation, parishioners were not fined in accordance with the established rules. 

Law enforcers were present around the churches to ensure the two-meter social distance between the parishioners was kept. 

No violations of the rules were observed and none of the parishioners were fined by police inside churches specifically, however, several persons who were not able to get to church before 21:00 were fined GEL 3000 each for violation of curfew in Gori, a city in eastern Georgia, Shida Kartli region. 

The Head of the Patrol Police Department, Vaja Siradze, thanked the faithful for adhering to restrictions. 

"Not a large number of parishioners were observed in the churches, for which I would like to thank each citizen. I would like to thank them for their social responsibility and for caring about each other's health," he noted. 

Amiran Gamkrelidze, Director of the National Center for Disease Control, has also thanked all the citizens who watched the Easter liturgy from home.

"Together, we will defeat this evil disease. Stay at home!” Gamkrelidze said in a video address released yesterday. 

By Ana Dumbadze 

19 April 2020 11:46