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Armenians Celebrate The Vardavar Water Festival

Vardavar is a festival in Armenia where people drench each other with water. Although now a Christian tradition, Vardavar's history dates back to pagan times. The ancient festival is traditionally associated with the deity Astghik, who was the goddess of water, beauty, love, and fertility. The festivities connected with the religious observance of Astghik were originally named “Vartavar” because Armenians offered her roses as a celebration (“vart” means “rose” in Armenian and "var" means "rise"). This is why the event was celebrated at harvest time․ Vardavar is currently celebrated 98 days (14 weeks) after Easter. During the day of Vardavar itself, it is common to see people pouring buckets of water from balconies onto unsuspecting pedestrians below. It is also a means of refreshment on summer days in July, which is usually hot and dry. (Photos by RFE/RL correspondent Karen Minasyan, 20 PHOTOS)