Orthodox Christians in Georgia are celebrating the Day of Virgin Mary, which is otherwise known as the Dormition of the Mother of God today.
In Georgia, Mary is referred to as Mariami and the holiday is known as Mariamoba.
The holiday commemorates the "falling asleep” or death of Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and, as believed, her bodily resurrection before being taken up to heaven.
The majority of Georgia’s population is Orthodox Christian so today is a public holiday in the country.
The Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II conducted a festive service today.
The Dormition of Virgin Mary is commemorated by one of the great feasts of the Orthodox Church. The feast is preceded by a two-week fast, referred to as the Dormition Fast in Georgia, where for 14 days prior to the holiday, religious Georgians cannot eat meat, fish, dairy products and eggs.
The Mother of God is considered the principal protector and intercessor of Georgia as the country was understood to be first allocated to her to preach in. It is believed the Virgin Mary’s holy robe is located in the Saint Mary's Church in Samegrelo region of western Georgia. On July 15 each year the holy robe becomes accessible to the public where believers can approach the relic.
Each year Georgian believers celebrate several different kinds of celebrations dedicated to the Virgin Mary. As well as the Dormition of the Mother of God, the Orthodox calendar also marks the Birth of the Virgin Mary and the day when the Saint first went to church.
The next celebration comes on September 21 when Georgians will celebrate the Birth of the Virgin Mary.