No time limits, no rules, an indiscriminate number of players—let’s play Lelo! The game is a no- holds-barred combination of wrestling and rugby that is very popular in south-western Georgia.
Every Easter Sunday, the residents of Shukhuti remember their dead by playing this ancient game. Lelo is a sport, and a tradition, but most of all it’s about passion, strength, faith and devotion. Two creeks, about 150 meters apart, mark the goal lines for two teams. Between them a playing field full of houses, gardens and a road.The teams are made up of citizens from the upper and lower halves of this small town but whoever wants is free to join them. The aim is easy: whichever side is the first to carry a 16 kilogram ball back to their creek wins. Meanwhile fences, trees, and bones are crushed by a big melee.Victory not only means beat your opponent. Victory is a tribute to those who are no longer with them. The ball is given as a offering to a deceased villager and placing it on his grave after the match. Kvemo (the lower part) took the victory this year, at least until the next Easter battle starts.
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