The feast, traditionally known as Vardavar, is marked in the period between June 28 and August 1 to coincide with the 98th day following Easter. It is one of the Tabernacle feasts commemorating the transformation or the “transfiguration” that came over Jesus while He was praying. Christ’s face shone like the sun and his clothes became a radiant and gleaming white. The Apostles Peter, James and John witnessed that event which occurred on a high mountain named Tabor, Qahana.am reports.
Evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke testify about the transfiguration of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:1-12, Luke 9:28-36).
“... As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun and his clothes were dazzling white. Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. So Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased – listen to him!” When the disciples heard the voice, they were so terrified that they threw themselves face downward on the ground. Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid!” So they looked up and saw no one there but Jesus. (Matthew 17:2-8)
A week’s fasting precedes Vardavar. The following Monday is a day of commemoration. All the churches serve a liturgy and offer a funeral service in memory of the deceased.
The word Vardavar traces its origins back to the Indo-European roots var, meaning water, a ar- to drench. Its history dates from the pagan times, a period when it was closely associated with the Goddess Astghik, the symbol of water, love, fertility and beauty. Vardavar was celebrated with a great splendor, with people bringing along roses as a gift to the goddess, releasing doves into the sky and drenching one another with water. The latter tradition has survived to our days.
Vardavar is a favorite feast especially among children, although adults too, turn out not absolutely indifferent to cool water, especially in the hot summer season. The feast is celebrated in all the regions across Armenia but meets a warmer welcome especially in the north-eastern regions. Since 2015, the International Vardavar Festival is annually organized in Geghard and Garni (Kotayk region), historical sites of Armenian pagan monuments.