Thursday, November 4, 2010

Religious Practices by my Host Family...Surprise we are not Orthodox!

Indeed it has been awhile since my last blog post. This is now going to change since I have internet at home and I don't have to wonder when I will be connected to the web again to make a post. Needless to say I have a few backed up stories to blog about but I will begin first with the touchy subject of Religion.

The Republic of Georgia is comprised of mostly Orthodox Christians and boast about being one of the first countries in Christendom back in like a million years ago. So imagine my astonishment when my host cousin comes to visit and informs me that my family is indeed Islamic. This revelation hit me really hard, and even though I have come to realize that in Georgia nothing should be taken at face value, or just because you heard it was the 'norm' does not mean that it is everywhere in this Country! I should definitely remember this after meeting two...count them two half black Georgians who only look full black but that is another story.

My host cousin and my host sisters inform me that yes they are all Muslim, but my host father who currently lives and works in Russia is an Orthodox Christian. My confusion drives deeper. I know or I should say that from my experiences I have known that Christians and Muslims do now mix usually because of that unevenly yoked situation, but in this case I suppose love prevailed or maybe it was because back in the Soviet days Religion may have not count for much, perhaps, but this is only speculation on my part. When my host mother arrived the entire evening I was looking for an opening to broach the subject with her. I am not Georgian so I do not feel the urge to ask intrusive questions to people. As she was flipping through my Georgian phrase book coincidentally she came to the page that translated various Denominations of Christianity and other Religions. She began reading them so I asked her "you are Muslim, yes?"(must use simple English) and she said no. Again the confusion came, she then told me in Georgian that she is not, but her mother, father, sister, brother and her children are Muslim, but her husband and her other sister are Christians. I asked her if she was a Christian then and she also said no. At this point my head is about to hurt because I am not understanding how this Georgian woman can be so different from what I have been told about Georgians. Her response was that she has not decided on which religion to follow and she really does not see the point. I was like!

I asked my sisters why they did not wear their heads covered as all Muslim girls would after the age of 12 I think it is, and she said because her mother doesn't like it so they do not, but when they get married they will wear it. I was then informed that there are Mosque in their village of Kakheti (spelling).

Another surprise in terms of Religion happened yesterday I met 2 American Mormon Missionaries while in the mall in Gldani. They informed my friends and I that there is indeed 2 Churches of Latter Day Saints. Naturally we made plans to go bowling with them!

One of the lessons I think I am to learn while living here is tolerance. Perhaps a few years ago my self righteous Christian attitude would have had me freaked out to live with Muslims, but the revelation of my family's religion did not shake me in the way it would have about 8 years ago. When my host grandmother or cousin pulled out their prayer rug to pray I looked on in admiration. Their faith is inspiring, and I think if a Muslim can strengthen my own faith in my own beliefs then I am on my way to realizing that in every aspect of life their is room to learn, and therefore grow.


  1. Nicole,

    Very kind, inspiring and educating post. As far as Muslims - they are common in Georgia, living there for centuries. Predominately Muslim population live in south-eastern and south-western part of the country. Former is Marneuli region where Azeri ethnic population lives and latter is Adjara next to the border if Turkey. Not to mention that there are more then million Muslim but ethnically Georgians living in Turkey.

    So yes - it is quite complex and colorful picture there.

  2. I visited the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul during a layover enroute to Georgia on my last visit. It is an awe inspiring sight, and I think if I wasn't a devout Christian I would have been inspired to convert to Islam.

  3. Nicole,

    One question I want to ask - in several your colleagues' blog was mentioning of their unexplained weight loss since arrival to Georgia. Unexplained because they've being practically force-feed from day one with food at the one point is nothing but fat and carbs. Despite that weight loss is happening.

    Do you confirm these stories?

  4. Dear Niclole,

    Many people are interesting in your plight and the motivations of this program, my first question is if you are still in Georgia? If so, let's talk. I worked for the human rights center and there is a big can of worms to open with this so called teaching program. I have spoken to others in the program and your case is not isolated. If you need a place to stay then I can arrange it. You case needs a wider audience.

    Best regards,

    Joni Simonishivli, Tblisi