Wikipedia says: “Vardavar or Vartavar (Armenian: Վարդավառ) is an Armenian festival in Armenia where people drench each other with water. The festival is also observed by Hemshin people of Turkey, a Muslim majority group of Armenian origin. Although now a Christian tradition, celebrating the transfiguration of Jesus Christ (the Feast of the Transfiguration), Vardavar’s history dates back to pagan times. The ancient festival is traditionally associated with the goddess Astghik, who was the goddess of water, beauty, love, and fertility. The festivities associated with this religious observance of Astghik were named “Vartavar” because Armenians offered her roses as a celebration (vart means “rose” in Armenian and var means “to burn/be burning”, this is why it was celebrated in the harvest time). Vardavar is generally celebrated 98 days (14 weeks) after Easter in the republic. In some regions, however, it is held on different days, and traditions differ too.”
Turkish Wikipedia (Google translated) also says “One of the pagan beliefs before the Christianization of Anatolia, it has continued its existence until recently as a version of harvest time celebrations enriched with religious motifs, and after Islamization it is a fun and a festival with songs and horons [dances, DB] that serves the purpose of finding and getting to know their future wives. as it must have come to the present day. In the Armenian belief, after the Flood of Noah, as the Prophet Noah descends from the ship, it rains for the last time and life starts again. With Christianity, this festivity was combined with the feast of the change of image of the Prophet Jesus (Baydzara-gerbutyun Diarn in Armenian, July 22). According to the Bible, on the mountain where Jesus Christ ascended with his three apostles, his face shines like the sun, the prophets Moses and Elijah appear around him and God says “this is my dear son”. Armenians celebrate this day by decorating with roses and soaking each other with water. Apart from the Hamshens, some Muslim Kurdish communities celebrate the weaning time of lambs (7 August) under the name of Vartivor.
More information regarding the pagan traditions associated with Vardavar can be found here.
Vartavar among the Hemshin
For more about the Hemshin click here.
Below is an article, Google translated, found here, relating a Hamshen perspective on Vardavar. Vartavar, which is the most authentic and perhaps the oldest holiday celebrated by the Armenian people with great festivities for thousands of years, has its origins in the Great Flood, but on that day everywhere, especially since the places of worship were decorated and decorated with colorful flowers, especially roses, ‘vart’ which means rose in Armenian. Based on the word ‘Vartavar’, the name of the holiday is called. On the anniversary of that happy day when Noah sacrificed and flew pigeons to express his gratitude to the God who saved him and his family from the Flood, Armenians would throw water on each other to remember the rain, moreover, they would push each other to lakes or rivers. On the day of Vartavar, the ancient Armenians also held great festivities. It should be noted that following the adoption of Christianity, religious leaders coincided the feasts with the Armenian holidays and celebrations of the pagan period, taking into account the habits of the people. Thus, Navasart (New Year), the most important day of the Pagan period, was coincided with Verapokhum, when Asdvadzadzin (Saint Virgin Mary) was taken to the sky after the death of Christianity. Every year in mid-August, the people who pray for the New Year’s gratitude have adopted the custom of praying in churches for the grape to be blessed, and Vartavar made the grave of Saint Krikor Lusavoriç (Illuminator) officially accepted by the Armenians from Kayseri to Muş at that time. It started to be celebrated by being coincided with the feast of Surp Karapet, and also with the change of image of Jesus Christ. Despite everything, pagan customs and traditions have not disappeared completely; Today, people continue to wet each other and fly pigeons in some places in Vartavar. The only community that celebrates this perhaps the oldest holiday unique to the Armenian people, other than the Armenians, is the Hamshens, who have adopted the Eastern Black Sea plateaus as their homeland. We wanted to read the view of this festival, where Vartavar turned into “Vartevor”, from the highlands of Baş Hemşin and Çamlı Hemşin, from the pen of a Hamshen. Vartevor of Hamshen
ADNAN YOUNG: Our Vartevor is one of the most colorful days of many years ago, the traces of our past lives. Nobody has prevented it from lasting a few days, and nowadays it is a collection of festivals and festivals organized to keep it alive … It is one of our favorite days, but, like many traditions and customs, it is one of our daily life rituals that should be asked to a connoisseur … Efforts are made to keep its name and memory alive, but the questions of what it really is, how much it is ours and should be carried to the future are obvious. As many other Hamshen rituals are rapidly falling behind … When expectations from technology, television and life increase and change, watching any international championship, talking about it, can become more anticipated and enthusiastically missed. It happened. ‘Vartevor’ is a general name, but they say ‘behur’ in Çayeli / Senoz, in the westernmost part of our geography where the Hamshen culture started. The villages, which went to the same plateau between the mowing and harvesting days, would meet on an agreed day and at a common point suitable for everyone. The most beautiful dresses were worn. The mules were beautifully decorated, claws were worn under the foals, mirrored pediments were worn on their foreheads, and fringed collars were worn around their necks. If the weather was sunny, colorful umbrellas would be opened and they would be happy to go to the plateau. Along the way, horons were played and folk songs were sung, accompanied by a tulumman. In an invisible gathering place from the plateau, everyone would wait for each other and walk towards the plateau accompanied by overalls. The pags of each village were in different places; Before the separation point, those in the plateau, those coming from below would burn bullets from above, but after the separation point, those who came this time would compete with each other for bullets. Behurs were special times when young people got to know each other and loved each other. In certain places they would gather and have fun, and ox fights were held – both among themselves and with the neighboring highlands. We used to do this in the context of Vartevor festivities, but similar events are still held for many reasons. Wedding association work is similar. We do not have jokes with “water” like our Armenian brothers, there are not. But Vartevor is known to be a day that represents fertility, and this day is claimed in this context.