Ormotsi = a celebration of life 40 days after the death of a person inGeorgia.


It is a big honor to be included in a supra, called ormotsi, in this case, and the honor came to me in 2008, when my sister-in-law's mom passed away.
After the death, there is a week-long wake around the deceased, and this in her house, where she is on her bed, and visible to all who enter the bedroom. I had no desire to go in, since that was largely a foreign concept to me, and since I had just met the family, my place was certainly not there.
So, for a week, the family and friends come in, and cry, sometimes very loudly, around their dearly departed. It is a form of mourning that is interesting in the way that the people, with their cries, really express themselves in a physical way, and this together. This form of unity in mourning really differs from what the western world does.
Then, a week later, the body is taken out of the house, accompanied by loud cries from the family and friends, and the casket is closed. Then, the walking procession starts to the cemetery, still in a very vocal way. It was frankly heart-wrenching, but the family was so exhausted from crying, that they hardly seem to notice the world around. You will excuse the lack of pictures of this ordeal, of course, as I felt it totally inappropriate to take any.
The casket is then put in the ground, and an orthodox priest says a few words, incense is being burned, and then the soil is added to the hole. When filled, the children, grown and young, throw themselves on the mound and cry more. This display of affection was to me a great introduction to the meaning of family in Georgia. Family ties are incredibly strong, partially, I suppose, because they live together with older and younger generations. Always a grandma on hand, or a grandpa, and they absolutely adore their children and grandchildren, tell them so all day, and have physical contact, hugs and such very often. Coming from a civilization where you had to be "seen not heard", it was unreal to me..

So, the mound over the casket is not covered for a period of 40 days after the death. It allows the soul of the dead to rise up. The final stone is put on the 40th day, with a ceremony not unlike the burial itself, but more subdued..All the personal papers of the deceased, such as passport and ID papers, are also put into the casket, sealing the "forever" part of the death..ormotsi means 40, and therefore the celebration of life is called ormotsi, since it has been exactly 40 days.

then, the party starts!!
Imagine hundreds of people, literally, coming to eat at your place.. I was told we were 300, but not all at the same time..People come in and contribute, give a certain amount of money, knowing it will more than cover what they will eat..A person sits at a single table, and takes in the contribution, and the names and amount are written in a special book, used, no doubt, to thank people later. no flowers are brought.
The amount of bread needed filled a room, there was stuff everywhere. It was awesome!
and the feast was AMAZING!

This is what we ate:
In order of appearance (I took notes.... :). Each line is one course..Keep in mind that it was during Lent, so most of the usual meat dishes had mushrooms instead..
-radishes, sprigs of fresh tarragon, and green onions
-lobiani: fresh bread filled with refried beans
-cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes cut and on a plate together, with chopped cilantro
-djondjoli, or pickled sprouts, nasturtium, I believe, and other pickled items
-round corn cakes called mchadi. A bit like corn bread..but better..a specialty of Western Georgia
-little blini with black mushrooms inside, rolled
-cooked spinach
-carrot salad
-potato salad
-cauliflower and walnut salad
-hot red beans
-chakapuli, which could have been meat, but was mushroom, with red spices
-in a tiny cup: wheat berries, honey and walnuts(that was wonderful)
-mashed potatoes and dill weed
-adjapsandali, a sort of ratatouille with eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes
-fruit platter with bananas, cut apples and other season fruit
-assorted cakes with cream, large slices
-sweet rice and apricots
- chai tea and Georgian coffee
and then, when they want the guests to leave, they serve chilaplavi, which is a rice dish, usually with mutton meat, but that day was mushroom). The guests then understand that it is the end of the meal..

-of course, all is served with copious amount of Georgian wines, mineral water and lemonade!

Georgian ladies are very often dressed in black. They wear their loss with their clothes, and follow a very strict rule of mourning periods. It is counted in months and years for family members. Therefore, a lady can have several members of the family pass away when she is in her fifties, which means that she will dressed in black for years. Along with the black clothing, she will also restrain from an fun activities, such as going to a restaurant or on vacation...Too strict for the average French girl , I'm afraid, but I have an immense respect for these women who wear their sorrow..