The Road

Warm welcome of the Doukhobors in “Georgian Siberia”

Hearing the storm and the howling wind outside, we could feel that the village we’re sleeping in is at altitude of 2047 metres. We mentioned to each other how lucky we were to avoid setting up a tent that night and went to back to sleep.

In Gorelovka, in Georgia, they say that winter lasts more than seven months, but we didn’t stop there to remind ourselves about the Finnish climate. Our plan was to meet a local religious group of pacifists called Doukhobors. The night and morning with a lovely family of made us realise a bit why they were once so much admired by Leo Tolstoy. Unfortunately, as he himself forecast (though it was in 1898) the population and traditions of Doukhobors might soon die out completely.

At the breakfast table young Nikolai told us more about his and his friends struggle to get a job. They migrate, some to tea plantations in northern Turkey, some to the building sites in Southern Russia, but at least for now, after some time they all come back. During our morning walk Nikolai forbids us to take photographs of ruined old houses “no, no photo, they are not nice, I will show the nice ones”. Little while later we walked amazed and in silence in Doukhobor prayer house. Actually the worship place includes three buildings, all in different architectural styles – “Ukrainian, German and Russian” as Nikolai explained.

In the central house of the area in a quick peek inside the room, we could see the photo of Lukerya, one of the Doukohobor leaders whose death in 1886 started big leadership crisis in the community. Once again we started to wonder how we may be experiencing here the end of the centuries-long, complicated history of the Doukhobors.

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