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N.Ghambashidze:“Khatis Diasakhlisi” or Hostess of Sanctuary in the Eastern Highland of Georgia

Christianity, as it is well known, said no to pagan ministry of women, established the institution of deaconesses and thus promoted women’s activity in church. It also encouraged women to be the teachers of the law and missioners. After establishing monasticism and lately abolishing deaconesses’ service de facto, women were involved in active monastic life and in every-day life of congregation.

As it is also well known protestant churches now permitted women to be priests and serve in the church like men. Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholic Church still keep the restriction and fallow the law and tradition.

Though women always had a strong position in social, political and religious life of both pagan and Christian Georgia (an ancient member of the Eastern Orthodox Church), tradition forbids women to perform Eucharist or the central rituals at sanctuaries. In the sanctuaries of the east Georgia highland women are not permitted to enter sanctuary or to come too close to it. It is forbidden to bake ritual offerings, to walk nearby sanctuaries etc. during the menstrual period as they are believed to be impure. But in Pirikita Khevsureti (the part of Khevsureti that is located beyond the Datvi pass) there still exists an office of Khatis Diasakhlisi or hostess of sanctuary.

A certain lady, member of community who is middle aged and has already menopause is and used to be chosen as a hostess of sanctuary (Khatis Diasakhlisi) to help male servants of sanctuary, mainly: to bake ritual bread for service and tide up sanctuary for festivals. During the period of her service, mainly a year, she should not have been in touch with women in their menstrual period, should not quarrel, should not think in a wrong way about others, should not speak loudly etc. If some times it was difficult to find suitable candidate for the office, the bread for ritual services were baked by an old lady who was a member of the family of main Dasturi (one of the servants of a sanctuary whose functions were serving as well. Mainly helping the main priest of sanctuary).

On this stage of the study we came to a conclusion that the office of Khatis Diasakhlisi is connected with the activity of deaconesses, mainly with the baking of prosforion, the occupation of specially chosen middle aged pious, honorable women, widows or wives of priests. In our opinion the office of Khatis Diasakhlisi is the same as that of the women who were chosen among the congregation for baking prosphorion but adapted to a local religious environment.

Category: Abstracts | Added by: margalita (18.10.2009)
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