By Ana Lordkipanidze, Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.
‘Supra’, a traditional type of Georgian feast, is a unique social occasion in Georgia that transforms formal meetings into informal gatherings with the aid of several glasses of homemade red wine. Usually held on a long table, the tradition of ‘Supra’ involves numerous rules and customs. The ‘Tamada’, the person who introduces each toast, always leads the “Supra” and sits at one of the corners of the table. The ‘Tamada’ initiates toasts of friendship, love, gratitude, and blesses everyone at the table, including a personal expression of praise for each person. Each toast and each drink requires all who are present to drink along, as refraining from doing so is considered a sign of disrespect. During toasts people will usually become relaxed and open, and will start playing on the guitar, singing and saying kind words to each other. And of course, drinking is always accompanied by delicious Georgian food. Scrambled eggs, fresh melted cheese with butter on top of specially made dough make up one of the most famous Georgian dishes, ‘Khachapuri’. Another famous type of Georgian food, ‘Khinkali’, has an interesting relationship with the word ‘friendship’ in Georgia. Friend in Georgian is ‘Megobari’ and is derived from the word ‘gobi’, the word for a big bowl. Thus a ‘Megobari’ is a person with whom you share ‘gobi’. ‘Khinkali’ is usually done in ‘gobi’ by several people, who while using the same pots, or ‘gobi’, become ‘megobari’, or friends. The way that linguistics, food and the concept of friendship interplay in this sense is part of a cultural tradition as, for Georgians, ‘friendship’ from ancient times is associated with sharing and preparing food together. This individualistic approach is usually quite appealing and since these toasts are accompanied by delicious food and wine, they create a friendly atmosphere for people to meet one another. By taking part in this custom, individuals come together peacefully regardless of how well acquainted they are, integrating smoothly through the positive interaction facilitated by Georgian ‘Supra’.