Molokan Holiday in Tiblisi, GeorgiaThe Focal Plane: Visual storytelling from Eurasia, Eurasianet.org, — August 19, 2010
Lubov Sosina (left) and Feodor Neudakhin, both presbyters, or leaders of a local Christian congregation, say a prayer to a Georgian Molokan community during the celebration of Transfiguration Day [Preobrazhenie, Преображение] on Aug. 19th in Tbilisi.
[All congregations in Southern California an Oregon that call themselves "Molokan" are of different faiths (sects), which discarded this and other holidays.]
Molokane — Russian for "milk drinkers" — stem from a Russian sectarian Christian group that split from the Russian Orthodox Church during the early 17th Century. In the mid 1800s, tens of thousands of Molokans were expelled [with economic incentives] from mainland Russia [and Ukraine] into the Caucasus. Although the Molokan religion prohibits women from preaching*, in Georgia, where the number of Molokane has decreased from 10,000 to several hundred since independence from the Soviet Union, the community has no choice. In recent decades, young Molokane have left Georgia, returning to ancestral lands in Russia.
[* Due to social pressure by men in Russia, many congregations have women presbyters and women in postitions seated at the altar table, prestol. Some are entirely women.]
So despite Sosina being the married 77-year-old daughter of a deceased presbyter, the community has preferred to have her act as a religious leader instead of her husband. “Probably I was more worthy,” she says jokingly.
More photos and story: Georgia, Molokane, religion, Russian minority, Tbilisi: The End of History, Temo Bardzimashvili's photo blog, August 24, 2010
[Before 1990, Spiritual Christians had 15 prayer houses in Georgia, with 8 in the capital of Tbilisi — 4 Prygun (Духовные) and 4 Molokan (Постоянные). This is the first news story to appear on the Internet about Molokane in Tbilisi.]