Boris Komakhidze: The Problem of Ethno-Religious Identity Transformation on the Example of Yazidis of Georgia

2023/06/58756-1685983287.jpg
Read: 2362     15:30     02 Июнь 2023    

"Cultural Center of the Caucasus Yazidis" is actively searching for scientific works, which concern Yazidi people all over the world. Our attention was attracted by the scientific work in the collection "Materials for Ethnography of Georgia", where the material of the researcher Boris Komakhidze entitled "The problem of transformation of ethno-religious identity on the example of Yazidis of Georgia" was published. It is important to note that despite the difference in views of the "Cultural Center of the Caucasus Yazidis" on the topic of scientific work, and disagreement with a number of given "facts" in this scientific study, it is nevertheless important to understand and see the perspective of the Yazidi people from the outside. Due to the large volume of scientific work, we had to isolate and publish the most important parts of the study. Below are excerpts from this scientific study:

"... Purpose of this article is to understand the factors that hinder the transformation of the ethnic and religious identity of Yazidis of Georgia, which are determined by the context of post-socialist religious changes. Social and political changes in the Soviet and post-Soviet period have affected all segments of the population. The article deals with the problem of transformation of ethno-confessional identity on the example of Yazidis living in Georgia, who are trying to outline their place in the process of formation of non-Kurdish ethno-religious identity.

Yazidism — an ethnic religion that makes its followers a subethnic group. Kurds who followed Yazidism had to endure more than one war and the trauma of war. They, along with other ethnic groups, have also been persecuted by Islamist Kurds. Against the background of geopolitical changes, post-Soviet transformations and ongoing processes in the Middle East, the question - who are we Kurds or Yazidis? This problem is actively discussed among Yazidis living in Georgia, because the institutionalization and legitimization of the religious organization in practice is hindered by: 1. The experience of Soviet religiosity; 2. Alienation from social and religious norms in the post-Soviet period and the problem of perceiving and sharing new norms proposed by Lalish (Yazidi religious center in northern Iraq). The transformation of ethno-confessional identity among Yazidis of Georgia is hindered by the Soviet experience, as the lack of communication with the religious center (Lalish) hindered the exchange of information.

Obstructive factors for the formation of ethnic identity among Yazidis of Georgia are: lack of information in society about religious and ethnic heritage; Different perception of ethnicity among different generations; Occurring geopolitical processes in Iraq (traumatic situation caused by actions against them in August 2014), as well as economic interests of elites.

Scientific research about Yazidis of Georgia is gradually entering the academic discourse, although the available literature (Ankosi 2006, 2009; Amoev 1999; Pirbari-Komakhia 2008, etc.) until 2014 (before the study began) dealt with social problems, ethno-cultural and everyday features of Yazidis. In 2014 (because of ISIS attacks in Iraq), the Georgian public asked questions about the tragedy of Yazidis in Iraq, which put the issue of ethnographic field research on the agenda.

For Yazidis, the group is formed by bloodline and religious affiliation, which is an argument for some religious leaders to affirm their non-Kurdish identity. Gender and the caste system determine social differentiation among Yazidis. The absence of a political state and geopolitical factors lead to variations in Yazidi identity and a variety of perceptions of ethnicity and religiosity.

The markers of ethnicity in Yazidi existence are different in post-socialist Georgia, in the Arab- and Kurdish-speaking Yazidi population in Iraq, in Europe, etc., which the religious elite considers a contemporary challenge and attempts to institutionalize ethno-religious union worldwide through the institutionalization of ritual life practices, ritual and educational centers. For Yazidis, the marker of non-Kurdish identity formation is based on a traumatic experience that opposes the Kurdish-Muslim one, which suggests the use of borrowing fundamental materials from past experiences in the process of identity formation. The determinants of human behavior are the emotions that place him or her in the group he or she considers "theirs." Emotions are fundamental identifiers of self-perception to separate the "us" group from the "other" group.

The markers of the institutionalization of a unified Yazidi identity are varied. Despite the institutionalization of ethno-religious identity for Yazidis in Georgia, the question of separating Kurds and Yazidis from each other is questioned on an existential level, due to the Soviet religious experience. Some Yazidis accept the new religious norms, some are alienated from social unity. Part questioned what is the need to pray in the shrine, when their religious practice is based on family religious rituals.

Yazidis consider their religion to be monotheistic. They recognize a supreme power, Hodeh (God), his seven angels (led by a peacock angel) and Sheikh Adi. The process of normalizing Yazidism as a religion began in the thirteenth century by Sheikh Adi. "Sheikh Adi cannot be considered the author of all the dogmas of Yazidis; he merely brought them into a certain form. Yazidism is an ethnic religion that divides society into three main social castes, the sheikhs, the pirs, and the mrids. The sheikhs and pirs are members of the higher social caste, while the mrids are followers. Yazidism forbids marriage to a member of another caste, ethnic or religious group. The violator of the marriage rules is no longer considered a member of the religious community (Pirbari, Komahia 2008, 51-52).

Relations between South Caucasian and Kurdish-speaking groups traditionally existed because of the proximity of the area of settlement. However, after the establishment of Russian domination in the Caucasus, this connection became particularly strong.

In 1874 Yazidis secretly asked the Russian Empire to allow at least two "tribes" Sipka and Rozha to settle in the Russian Empire, in the Kara district, and they received asylum from the Empire (Isko 1963, 6). The ancestors of Yazidis living in present-day Georgia escaped religious persecution by the Ottoman Empire in the twenties of the twentieth century. The territories of Asia Minor belonging to Russia before March 3, 1917, were ceded to the Ottomans under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which was followed by persecution of pro-Russian Yazidis by the Muslim population, including the Kurds. Yazidis fled persecution from the Van, Kars, and Bayazid regions of Turkey to Georgia, who mostly settled in Tbilisi. According to available information, Yazidis live in Tbilisi, Batumi, Rustavi, Telavi, Tsnor, Kvareli, Ozurgeti (Songulashvili, 2005; Pashayeva, Komakhia, 2008; Ankos, 2006, 2009; Pirbari, Komakhia, 2008).

In the 1926 censuses in Soviet Georgia there are two columns indicating ethnicity/nationality: Kurdish and Yazidi. According to the census, there were 10,217 Kurds living in Georgia (of which 2,262 were Yazidis and 7,955 were so-called Kurds). In later censuses, Yazidis and Kurds were described together.

According to the census of 1959 in Georgia lived 16.2 thousand Kurds, in 1970 - 20.7 thousand. - 20,700 in 1970, 25,700 in 1979. - In 1989, there were 30,300 Kurds (Pirbari, Komakhia 2008: 32-33). - 30,300 (Pirbari, Komakhia 2008: 32-33). According to the 2002 census, about 20,000 Kurds lived in Georgia. The description mentions Kurds and Yazidis as separate ethnic groups. About 18,000 citizens considered themselves Yazidis and 2,000 considered themselves Kurds (Beridze (ed.) 2003:110). According to the 2014 census, there were 12,200 Yazidis living in Georgia. In the censuses, Yazidis are listed as a nationality. Religious statistics recorded 8,600 Yazidis. In the 2002 and 2014 censuses, the total number of Yazidis decreased compared to the censuses conducted during the Soviet period, due to the difficult socio-economic conditions in the country after independence.

A small number of Yazidis immigrated to Georgia from Iraq in 2014. On August 8, 2018, GNSC.net published information under the heading, "We condemn the genocide of Yazidis in Iraq!" mentioning that on August 3, 2014, Islamic State (ISIS) fighters attacked the Yazidi-populated area of Shangal, Iraq. They managed to break through the defense line and seize the southern territory of Shangal, and as a result, they began to persecute Yazidis. In August 2014, after the terrorist attack against Yazidis by the "Islamic State" in Iraq since August 3, 2014, 63 Iraqi citizens applied to the Ministry of IDPs and Resettlement of Georgia for refugee status; 29 applicants were granted status (Molika 2016, 56). In 2016, most of the new residents left Georgia, some went to Europe, some returned home (interview 1: 2.05.2017).

The Soviet period is considered the era of the rise of Yazidi culture among Yazidis of Georgia, as the Yazidi language was institutionally taught along with other languages, and in the 1980s the only Yazidi theater in the Soviet Union operated only in Tbilisi. In 1988, the first organization in Georgia, Ronai (Light), was established. In 1998 it changed its name to "Union of Yazidis of Georgia". In 2004 the organization split into two parts. In 1991, the "Kurdish Information and Cultural Center" was established as a Georgian branch of the Kurdish Liberation Front, affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party of Abdullah Ocalan. In the 2000s, the "Kurdish-Yazidi Congress", the Independent League of Yazidi Women of Georgia, the Union of Georgian Kurds, etc. were also established. (Pirbari, Komakhia 2008, 82-85). In 2011, a new organization "Georgian Yazidi House" was founded, uniting the "Georgian Yazidi Theological Council" and the "Cultural Center of Yazidis", which organized the construction of a Yazidi temple and cultural center in Georgia.

The problem of the transformation of ethno-confessional identity. As a result of Soviet policy, the three Yazidi castes in Georgia became equalized. Despite religious differentiation, Yazidi mrid and sheikh productive resources were equalized. The universal desire for education led to the diversification of knowledge, and Yazidi scholars and artists (Azize Isco, Lamara Pashayeva, Bace Jafarova, etc.....) appeared in Soviet Georgia. The diversification of education also contributed to the disappearance of religious authorities. Yazidism, which was already a religion based on family traditions and customs, became part of an even more intimate existence. During the Soviet period, Yazidis transmitted religious and cultural knowledge through Kurdish radio and theater.

The new understanding of prohibitions and religious dogma among Georgia's Yazidis raises the question of what it means to be Kurdish and what it means to be a Yazidi. The answer to this question is hindered by several factors, which, along with the collapse of the Soviet Union, have inertially transferred the cultural events unfolding among Yazidis of Georgia: the lack of information in society and the possession of superficial information about their religious and ethnic heritage; Perception of ethnicity and religiosity by different generations with different approaches (conditionally "generational discord"); Traumatic situation caused by the actions against Yazidis in Iraq in August 2014, which collectively falls into the interests of specific individuals and changes as political actors change in the region.

Most Yazidis living in post-Soviet Georgia agree that they are Yazidis by religion and nationality. During the interviewing process, most of the informants indicated that they are Yazidi by nationality, but the issue of dual ethno-religious identity was highlighted. In informal conversations, informants repeatedly referred to themselves as Kurds, which is information obtained unconsciously. Despite their claimed Yazidi identity, their collective unconscious returns Yazidis to their past experiences.

Dimitri Pirbari and Rustam Rzgoian believe that it is inappropriate to consider Yazidis as a sub-ethnic group of another ethnicity, since this is Yazidis' primary self-name. "Even when a Yazidi changes religion, he still calls himself a Yazidi, indicating that the term Yazidi is an ethnonym for Yazidi".

At the institutional level, the initiator of the normalization of Yazidiism in Georgia is the Yazidi Theological Council, which has a desire to lead the process of establishing a clear position on the ethno-religious identity of Yazidis of Georgia. In the 2014 censuses, Yazidis recorded their ethnic and religious identity in different ways. Informant 1 mentioned that his family recorded Yazidis as an ethnicity and Sun-worshippers as a religion in the census (Interview 1: 08/13/2014). Informant 9 noted that Yazidis were a nationality and sun worship was a religion. Kerim Ankos (orientalist) attributed the identification of Yazidis with Zoroastrianism or sun worship to illiteracy. He believed that the bulk of the Georgian Yazidis are uneducated, they do not know the cults they worship, and if you ask them, everyone has a different understanding of the norms of the Yazidi religion.

An Arabic-speaking Iraqi Yazidi who came to Georgia as a refugee in 2014 mentioned in an interview that he was an ethnic Yazidi Kurd. He believed that Georgia's Yazidi religious leaders thought otherwise because they lived in Georgia and for them to declare their religious affiliation as ethnicity, and in Iraq both identities were important.

Informant families from the mrid caste knew at least one family or were themselves families where one member was baptized as an Orthodox Christian or married to a non-Georgian. Informant 1 mentioned that despite the ban many Yazidis marry members of other religions.

Speaking about the identity of Kurds and Yazidis, Dimitri Pirbari noted that if someone changes his religion or marries a woman from another ethnic group, he will no longer be considered Yazidi, but such people still consider themselves Yazidis and have a dual consciousness.

"Generational conflict" is an obstacle to the transformation of ethno-religious identity. Kerim Ankosi, as a representative of the older generation, a Kurdish activist, speaking about the youth educated in the post-Soviet period, noted that today's youth do not understand the norms in the religious and social life of Yazidis, because they were raised in a different environment from the previous generation (periods of Soviet transformation and post-Soviet transition), which was a period of rise of national and religious self-consciousness. However, the religious prohibitions characteristic of that society was a factor in the fact that some young people fell under the influence of different religions. They changed their religious affiliation, which caused conflicts among Yazidis. There was a division of the group into hostile factions, which Ankosi attributed to the passivity and religious illiteracy of the clergy (Ankosi 2009, 64).

According to Kerim Ankosi, the problem of Yazidi identity in Georgia became urgent after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to new values. Ankosi noted that not only in Georgia, Armenia and Russia Yazidis were never written as a nationality because the term for nationality was "Kurd.

A Yazidi temple and cultural center as a shaper of identity. The desire of Yazidis came true on June 16, 2015, when the Temple and Cultural Center in Tbilisi was opened. In 2007, the city mayor's office allowed Yazidis to build the shrine; the government provided them with a plot of land for a symbolic price of GEL 1. For the construction of the shrine, Yazidis turned to the Georgian architect Paata Kurdiani, who designed a shrine similar to the Lalish Temple. The shrine and cultural center were to play a major role in the process of unification and transformation of Yazidi identity. Signs of this could be seen on the opening day of the shrine. On the opening day of the Varketili shrine, the sounds of Yazidi music could be heard, young people dressed in national Yazidi clothing lined up in front of the shrine wearing the national dress and state flags of Georgia.

A religious delegation from Iraq, led by the Yazidi world Sheikh Tahsim Beg and accompanied by Bave Sheikh, attended the opening of the shrine.

On the day of the opening of the shrine and cultural center, the community came together. Opinions, ideological, political and economic differences disappeared. Older and younger generations, Georgian Yazidis and Iraqi refugees attended the opening. The shrine now celebrates commemorative days in condemnation of the August 2014 genocide in Iraq, and publishes a Yazidi calendar. The center organizes events to provide various information to the Yazidi population and to increase knowledge about the community. Since this day, the tradition of celebrating holidays and praying at the shrine is also established.

Yazidi shrine is a space of representation of ethno-religious identity in the process of unification and identity formation of Yazidis of Georgia. During the study, most of the informants stressed that the shrine and the cultural center would allow them to gather together for various celebrations and meetings.

Conclusion. Ethnographic research has revealed that the main problem of Yazidis in modern Georgia is the issue of group cohesion and the formation of a unified nonKurdish (Yazidi) identity. The question of who should be a member of the Yazidi "ethnic unity" in the future and who should not is periodically on the agenda...".





Tags: #yazidisinfo   #newsyazidis   #aboutyazidis   #yazidisofgeorgia  



Boris Komakhidze: The Problem of Ethno-Religious Identity Transformation on the Example of Yazidis of Georgia

2023/06/58756-1685983287.jpg
Read: 2363     15:30     02 Июнь 2023    

"Cultural Center of the Caucasus Yazidis" is actively searching for scientific works, which concern Yazidi people all over the world. Our attention was attracted by the scientific work in the collection "Materials for Ethnography of Georgia", where the material of the researcher Boris Komakhidze entitled "The problem of transformation of ethno-religious identity on the example of Yazidis of Georgia" was published. It is important to note that despite the difference in views of the "Cultural Center of the Caucasus Yazidis" on the topic of scientific work, and disagreement with a number of given "facts" in this scientific study, it is nevertheless important to understand and see the perspective of the Yazidi people from the outside. Due to the large volume of scientific work, we had to isolate and publish the most important parts of the study. Below are excerpts from this scientific study:

"... Purpose of this article is to understand the factors that hinder the transformation of the ethnic and religious identity of Yazidis of Georgia, which are determined by the context of post-socialist religious changes. Social and political changes in the Soviet and post-Soviet period have affected all segments of the population. The article deals with the problem of transformation of ethno-confessional identity on the example of Yazidis living in Georgia, who are trying to outline their place in the process of formation of non-Kurdish ethno-religious identity.

Yazidism — an ethnic religion that makes its followers a subethnic group. Kurds who followed Yazidism had to endure more than one war and the trauma of war. They, along with other ethnic groups, have also been persecuted by Islamist Kurds. Against the background of geopolitical changes, post-Soviet transformations and ongoing processes in the Middle East, the question - who are we Kurds or Yazidis? This problem is actively discussed among Yazidis living in Georgia, because the institutionalization and legitimization of the religious organization in practice is hindered by: 1. The experience of Soviet religiosity; 2. Alienation from social and religious norms in the post-Soviet period and the problem of perceiving and sharing new norms proposed by Lalish (Yazidi religious center in northern Iraq). The transformation of ethno-confessional identity among Yazidis of Georgia is hindered by the Soviet experience, as the lack of communication with the religious center (Lalish) hindered the exchange of information.

Obstructive factors for the formation of ethnic identity among Yazidis of Georgia are: lack of information in society about religious and ethnic heritage; Different perception of ethnicity among different generations; Occurring geopolitical processes in Iraq (traumatic situation caused by actions against them in August 2014), as well as economic interests of elites.

Scientific research about Yazidis of Georgia is gradually entering the academic discourse, although the available literature (Ankosi 2006, 2009; Amoev 1999; Pirbari-Komakhia 2008, etc.) until 2014 (before the study began) dealt with social problems, ethno-cultural and everyday features of Yazidis. In 2014 (because of ISIS attacks in Iraq), the Georgian public asked questions about the tragedy of Yazidis in Iraq, which put the issue of ethnographic field research on the agenda.

For Yazidis, the group is formed by bloodline and religious affiliation, which is an argument for some religious leaders to affirm their non-Kurdish identity. Gender and the caste system determine social differentiation among Yazidis. The absence of a political state and geopolitical factors lead to variations in Yazidi identity and a variety of perceptions of ethnicity and religiosity.

The markers of ethnicity in Yazidi existence are different in post-socialist Georgia, in the Arab- and Kurdish-speaking Yazidi population in Iraq, in Europe, etc., which the religious elite considers a contemporary challenge and attempts to institutionalize ethno-religious union worldwide through the institutionalization of ritual life practices, ritual and educational centers. For Yazidis, the marker of non-Kurdish identity formation is based on a traumatic experience that opposes the Kurdish-Muslim one, which suggests the use of borrowing fundamental materials from past experiences in the process of identity formation. The determinants of human behavior are the emotions that place him or her in the group he or she considers "theirs." Emotions are fundamental identifiers of self-perception to separate the "us" group from the "other" group.

The markers of the institutionalization of a unified Yazidi identity are varied. Despite the institutionalization of ethno-religious identity for Yazidis in Georgia, the question of separating Kurds and Yazidis from each other is questioned on an existential level, due to the Soviet religious experience. Some Yazidis accept the new religious norms, some are alienated from social unity. Part questioned what is the need to pray in the shrine, when their religious practice is based on family religious rituals.

Yazidis consider their religion to be monotheistic. They recognize a supreme power, Hodeh (God), his seven angels (led by a peacock angel) and Sheikh Adi. The process of normalizing Yazidism as a religion began in the thirteenth century by Sheikh Adi. "Sheikh Adi cannot be considered the author of all the dogmas of Yazidis; he merely brought them into a certain form. Yazidism is an ethnic religion that divides society into three main social castes, the sheikhs, the pirs, and the mrids. The sheikhs and pirs are members of the higher social caste, while the mrids are followers. Yazidism forbids marriage to a member of another caste, ethnic or religious group. The violator of the marriage rules is no longer considered a member of the religious community (Pirbari, Komahia 2008, 51-52).

Relations between South Caucasian and Kurdish-speaking groups traditionally existed because of the proximity of the area of settlement. However, after the establishment of Russian domination in the Caucasus, this connection became particularly strong.

In 1874 Yazidis secretly asked the Russian Empire to allow at least two "tribes" Sipka and Rozha to settle in the Russian Empire, in the Kara district, and they received asylum from the Empire (Isko 1963, 6). The ancestors of Yazidis living in present-day Georgia escaped religious persecution by the Ottoman Empire in the twenties of the twentieth century. The territories of Asia Minor belonging to Russia before March 3, 1917, were ceded to the Ottomans under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which was followed by persecution of pro-Russian Yazidis by the Muslim population, including the Kurds. Yazidis fled persecution from the Van, Kars, and Bayazid regions of Turkey to Georgia, who mostly settled in Tbilisi. According to available information, Yazidis live in Tbilisi, Batumi, Rustavi, Telavi, Tsnor, Kvareli, Ozurgeti (Songulashvili, 2005; Pashayeva, Komakhia, 2008; Ankos, 2006, 2009; Pirbari, Komakhia, 2008).

In the 1926 censuses in Soviet Georgia there are two columns indicating ethnicity/nationality: Kurdish and Yazidi. According to the census, there were 10,217 Kurds living in Georgia (of which 2,262 were Yazidis and 7,955 were so-called Kurds). In later censuses, Yazidis and Kurds were described together.

According to the census of 1959 in Georgia lived 16.2 thousand Kurds, in 1970 - 20.7 thousand. - 20,700 in 1970, 25,700 in 1979. - In 1989, there were 30,300 Kurds (Pirbari, Komakhia 2008: 32-33). - 30,300 (Pirbari, Komakhia 2008: 32-33). According to the 2002 census, about 20,000 Kurds lived in Georgia. The description mentions Kurds and Yazidis as separate ethnic groups. About 18,000 citizens considered themselves Yazidis and 2,000 considered themselves Kurds (Beridze (ed.) 2003:110). According to the 2014 census, there were 12,200 Yazidis living in Georgia. In the censuses, Yazidis are listed as a nationality. Religious statistics recorded 8,600 Yazidis. In the 2002 and 2014 censuses, the total number of Yazidis decreased compared to the censuses conducted during the Soviet period, due to the difficult socio-economic conditions in the country after independence.

A small number of Yazidis immigrated to Georgia from Iraq in 2014. On August 8, 2018, GNSC.net published information under the heading, "We condemn the genocide of Yazidis in Iraq!" mentioning that on August 3, 2014, Islamic State (ISIS) fighters attacked the Yazidi-populated area of Shangal, Iraq. They managed to break through the defense line and seize the southern territory of Shangal, and as a result, they began to persecute Yazidis. In August 2014, after the terrorist attack against Yazidis by the "Islamic State" in Iraq since August 3, 2014, 63 Iraqi citizens applied to the Ministry of IDPs and Resettlement of Georgia for refugee status; 29 applicants were granted status (Molika 2016, 56). In 2016, most of the new residents left Georgia, some went to Europe, some returned home (interview 1: 2.05.2017).

The Soviet period is considered the era of the rise of Yazidi culture among Yazidis of Georgia, as the Yazidi language was institutionally taught along with other languages, and in the 1980s the only Yazidi theater in the Soviet Union operated only in Tbilisi. In 1988, the first organization in Georgia, Ronai (Light), was established. In 1998 it changed its name to "Union of Yazidis of Georgia". In 2004 the organization split into two parts. In 1991, the "Kurdish Information and Cultural Center" was established as a Georgian branch of the Kurdish Liberation Front, affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party of Abdullah Ocalan. In the 2000s, the "Kurdish-Yazidi Congress", the Independent League of Yazidi Women of Georgia, the Union of Georgian Kurds, etc. were also established. (Pirbari, Komakhia 2008, 82-85). In 2011, a new organization "Georgian Yazidi House" was founded, uniting the "Georgian Yazidi Theological Council" and the "Cultural Center of Yazidis", which organized the construction of a Yazidi temple and cultural center in Georgia.

The problem of the transformation of ethno-confessional identity. As a result of Soviet policy, the three Yazidi castes in Georgia became equalized. Despite religious differentiation, Yazidi mrid and sheikh productive resources were equalized. The universal desire for education led to the diversification of knowledge, and Yazidi scholars and artists (Azize Isco, Lamara Pashayeva, Bace Jafarova, etc.....) appeared in Soviet Georgia. The diversification of education also contributed to the disappearance of religious authorities. Yazidism, which was already a religion based on family traditions and customs, became part of an even more intimate existence. During the Soviet period, Yazidis transmitted religious and cultural knowledge through Kurdish radio and theater.

The new understanding of prohibitions and religious dogma among Georgia's Yazidis raises the question of what it means to be Kurdish and what it means to be a Yazidi. The answer to this question is hindered by several factors, which, along with the collapse of the Soviet Union, have inertially transferred the cultural events unfolding among Yazidis of Georgia: the lack of information in society and the possession of superficial information about their religious and ethnic heritage; Perception of ethnicity and religiosity by different generations with different approaches (conditionally "generational discord"); Traumatic situation caused by the actions against Yazidis in Iraq in August 2014, which collectively falls into the interests of specific individuals and changes as political actors change in the region.

Most Yazidis living in post-Soviet Georgia agree that they are Yazidis by religion and nationality. During the interviewing process, most of the informants indicated that they are Yazidi by nationality, but the issue of dual ethno-religious identity was highlighted. In informal conversations, informants repeatedly referred to themselves as Kurds, which is information obtained unconsciously. Despite their claimed Yazidi identity, their collective unconscious returns Yazidis to their past experiences.

Dimitri Pirbari and Rustam Rzgoian believe that it is inappropriate to consider Yazidis as a sub-ethnic group of another ethnicity, since this is Yazidis' primary self-name. "Even when a Yazidi changes religion, he still calls himself a Yazidi, indicating that the term Yazidi is an ethnonym for Yazidi".

At the institutional level, the initiator of the normalization of Yazidiism in Georgia is the Yazidi Theological Council, which has a desire to lead the process of establishing a clear position on the ethno-religious identity of Yazidis of Georgia. In the 2014 censuses, Yazidis recorded their ethnic and religious identity in different ways. Informant 1 mentioned that his family recorded Yazidis as an ethnicity and Sun-worshippers as a religion in the census (Interview 1: 08/13/2014). Informant 9 noted that Yazidis were a nationality and sun worship was a religion. Kerim Ankos (orientalist) attributed the identification of Yazidis with Zoroastrianism or sun worship to illiteracy. He believed that the bulk of the Georgian Yazidis are uneducated, they do not know the cults they worship, and if you ask them, everyone has a different understanding of the norms of the Yazidi religion.

An Arabic-speaking Iraqi Yazidi who came to Georgia as a refugee in 2014 mentioned in an interview that he was an ethnic Yazidi Kurd. He believed that Georgia's Yazidi religious leaders thought otherwise because they lived in Georgia and for them to declare their religious affiliation as ethnicity, and in Iraq both identities were important.

Informant families from the mrid caste knew at least one family or were themselves families where one member was baptized as an Orthodox Christian or married to a non-Georgian. Informant 1 mentioned that despite the ban many Yazidis marry members of other religions.

Speaking about the identity of Kurds and Yazidis, Dimitri Pirbari noted that if someone changes his religion or marries a woman from another ethnic group, he will no longer be considered Yazidi, but such people still consider themselves Yazidis and have a dual consciousness.

"Generational conflict" is an obstacle to the transformation of ethno-religious identity. Kerim Ankosi, as a representative of the older generation, a Kurdish activist, speaking about the youth educated in the post-Soviet period, noted that today's youth do not understand the norms in the religious and social life of Yazidis, because they were raised in a different environment from the previous generation (periods of Soviet transformation and post-Soviet transition), which was a period of rise of national and religious self-consciousness. However, the religious prohibitions characteristic of that society was a factor in the fact that some young people fell under the influence of different religions. They changed their religious affiliation, which caused conflicts among Yazidis. There was a division of the group into hostile factions, which Ankosi attributed to the passivity and religious illiteracy of the clergy (Ankosi 2009, 64).

According to Kerim Ankosi, the problem of Yazidi identity in Georgia became urgent after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to new values. Ankosi noted that not only in Georgia, Armenia and Russia Yazidis were never written as a nationality because the term for nationality was "Kurd.

A Yazidi temple and cultural center as a shaper of identity. The desire of Yazidis came true on June 16, 2015, when the Temple and Cultural Center in Tbilisi was opened. In 2007, the city mayor's office allowed Yazidis to build the shrine; the government provided them with a plot of land for a symbolic price of GEL 1. For the construction of the shrine, Yazidis turned to the Georgian architect Paata Kurdiani, who designed a shrine similar to the Lalish Temple. The shrine and cultural center were to play a major role in the process of unification and transformation of Yazidi identity. Signs of this could be seen on the opening day of the shrine. On the opening day of the Varketili shrine, the sounds of Yazidi music could be heard, young people dressed in national Yazidi clothing lined up in front of the shrine wearing the national dress and state flags of Georgia.

A religious delegation from Iraq, led by the Yazidi world Sheikh Tahsim Beg and accompanied by Bave Sheikh, attended the opening of the shrine.

On the day of the opening of the shrine and cultural center, the community came together. Opinions, ideological, political and economic differences disappeared. Older and younger generations, Georgian Yazidis and Iraqi refugees attended the opening. The shrine now celebrates commemorative days in condemnation of the August 2014 genocide in Iraq, and publishes a Yazidi calendar. The center organizes events to provide various information to the Yazidi population and to increase knowledge about the community. Since this day, the tradition of celebrating holidays and praying at the shrine is also established.

Yazidi shrine is a space of representation of ethno-religious identity in the process of unification and identity formation of Yazidis of Georgia. During the study, most of the informants stressed that the shrine and the cultural center would allow them to gather together for various celebrations and meetings.

Conclusion. Ethnographic research has revealed that the main problem of Yazidis in modern Georgia is the issue of group cohesion and the formation of a unified nonKurdish (Yazidi) identity. The question of who should be a member of the Yazidi "ethnic unity" in the future and who should not is periodically on the agenda...".





Tags: #yazidisinfo   #newsyazidis   #aboutyazidis   #yazidisofgeorgia