The Angels and The Viruses

Author: Thoma Sukhashvili
Edition: Traditions

“Lavnana, Vardo nana, Iavnaninao,

The lords have arrived, Iavnaniao”



The soul and the body have been considered as one whole, for the entire history of humanity. It was believed, that disease was brought upon a human by the supernatural powers and the treatment was ritual. Science, of course, had a huge impact on medicine, but there still are some diseases which are attempted to be treated with rituals. Georgia is not an exception: Some diseases are still considered to be caused by supernatural powers. The common name of such contagious infectious diseases is “Batonebi” (“The Lords”): chickenpox, scarlet fever, mumps. In the proto christian period of Georgia, “The Lords”, or sometimes called “The Angels”, were mythical creatures and the virus was the result of their visit to the family.

The Lords were the children of the Georgian goddess of fertility, Nana. A person who would get the disease was believed to be blessed by angels. People would bring their children to the diseased person, so the child would also get the virus and be blessed. It can be rationally explained: the treatment of the disease is much easier in childhood than in adult years, which might yield many complications later. A person can get the virus anytime in his/her life, but if you get it once in childhood, your body develops immunity against the virus, antibodies are created, and the virus can’t be transmitted to you anymore.

Dachi, 19


He has chickenpox and has been held in quarantine with his dog for 10 days. He is not able to leave the house, because the virus can get complicated or he might transmit it to other people. His house is full of positivity and imbued with a calm atmosphere. Family members are trying not to anger ‘The Lords’ and create a positive environment for the patient. He is covering the rush with green ointment to prevent the irritation, but it is against traditions, because ‘The Lords’ love only red colour. Sometimes he lights up “Bazma” - little candles made from ground walnuts. The walnut smell pleases ‘The Lords’.

Mariam, 6

Her family members try to make her every wish come true, even if it’s difficult. They believe her wishes are the wishes of The Angels. Family members sing a special lullaby for the Angels before her bedtime.

The ritual of seeing off The Lords


Nobody follows every ritual for the treatment of the viruses, but there are still some beliefs, which even modern parents follow. For example, the ritual of seeing off The Lords: When the virus is cured, the family bakes Kada - a sweet cake with walnuts. They take the cake to the nearest crossroad, cut it and feed the cake to the passengers. In the west part of Georgia, the family goes to the forest and they hang red cloths on the trees. Some of this rituals  are still practiced in the modern families.


Material contains audio from the Georgian movie "Iavnana"

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