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Pomegranate Holiday, Traditional Pomegranate Festival and Culture

The pomegranate, mentioned in the holy books, used to be considered the "king of fruits" in the East in ancient times. Almost every seed of this fruit is good for human health. Regardless of the place where it grows, the pomegranate tree has been called the "tree of life" and the pomegranate juice has been called the "drink of love". 

The pomegranate tree has been famous for the beauty of its flowers, fruits, dark-red, juicy, tasty seeds and specific flavour since ancient times. It is no coincidence that the pomegranate used to be called the king of fruits. It is said that the shape of the king's crown was taken from the shape of the upright calyx or “crown” of pomegranate. Pomegranate can be regarded as the king of fruits not only for its beauty and flavour, but also for its benefits. 

In ancient times, the pomegranate fruit, which was of great importance in the East, was considered a symbol of productivity in China. The Prophet Muhammad advised his followers to eat pomegranate fruit, saying that pomegranate cleans the heart from envy and hatred. Pomegranate has a very interesting history. According to ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Persephone, who lived in the kingdom of Aid, was condemned to live in the underworld for six months of each year because she tasted six seeds of pomegranates. In ancient Babylon, knights believed that they could gain invincibility by chewing pomegranate seeds before going to war.

    Its most valuable type was grown in the ancient Greek province of Carthage BC. The healing properties of pomegranate were known to the Assyrians, Egyptians, Jews, Greeks and Romans in ancient times.

In 1500 BC, the Chinese doctors used pomegranate peel as treatment for worm infections. Pomegranate and its peels are also used in Azerbaijan. Depending on the types of pomegranate, the fruits are sweet and sour. It is the citric acid in its juice that gives a sour taste to pomegranate. 

In addition to sugar and citric acid, pomegranate is rich in vitamins, colouring matters, macro and micronutrients. The juice of wild pomegranate is used for production of the citric acid for use in medicine and the food industry. The peel of the fruit is also useful. It is brewed as a tea and taken against diarrhoea and dysentery in gastrointestinal diseases. Pomegranate juice is very good for people with kidney and liver diseases. People with diabetes are advised to drink pomegranate juice.

Pomegranate juice is taken as a high in vitamins drink during fatigue, anaemia, bronchial asthma, angina, radiation. It is also very useful as a restorative remedy after infectious diseases and gastrointestinal disorders. Pomegranate stimulates the appetite, is used in the treatment of diathesis, headaches, hypertension. To strengthen the nervous system, the interior skins of the fruit are dried, brewed and taken as a tea. Pomegranate is rich in potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus minerals, vitamins C and B1, B2.

The history of Azerbaijan is inextricably linked with the centuries-old culture of pomegranate cultivation. Historically, pomegranates have been cultivated in almost all regions of Azerbaijan. However, Shirvan, located in the arid subtropical zone, is considered to be the center for growing the best pomegranate types. Pomegranates cultivated in Goychay region are mainly used for juice production.

Goychay pomegranate in particular has become famous in the world and a synonym for "the real Azerbaijani pomegranates". The secret of the excellent flavour and unchanging quality of Goychay pomegranates is the existence of a unique microclimate and soil composition of the region, which is not found anywhere else in the world.

Different types of pomegranate are grown in Azerbaijan, which is due to the richness of Azerbaijani nature and the existence of nine climatic zones. Red pomegranate has become a national symbol of our country. Every year in late October - early November, the "Pomegranate Festival" is held in the Goychay region of Azerbaijan.

"Pomegranate Holiday" was held for the first time on November 3, 2006 at the joint initiative of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Executive Authority of Goychay region.

During the pomegranate holiday, pomegranate types grown in different villages of Goychay region and products made from them are brought to the centre of the region and displayed at the exhibition organized in the city square. Performances of young athletes and concerts are held in the city centre. The main purpose of the festivities is to promote the regions, demonstrate cultural and economic potential and to assist the tourism development.

These events are attended by representatives of ambassadors of foreign countries to Azerbaijan, as well as the businessmen from Goychay living abroad. Participants of the event are treated to pomegranate juices in the central square of the city. 

Pomegranate culture and traditions have a special place in the cultural life, mythology, ancient traditions, cuisine and agriculture of the Azerbaijani people. Many Azerbaijani artists have addressed the theme of pomegranate in their works. Great personalities of Azerbaijan's fine arts Togrul Narimanbekov, Sattar Bahlulzade, Tahir Salahov, Sakit Mammadov, Arif Huseynov, repeatedly addressed the pomegranate theme in their works.

The fifteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held in Paris on December 14-19, 2020 (was held on an online platform for the first time due to the global pandemic). On December 16, it was decided to include the nomination document "Pomegranate Holiday, Traditional Pomegranate Festival and Culture" submitted by the Republic of Azerbaijan in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The adoption of such an important decision for our country was possible due to First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva’s support, and the joint activities of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to UNESCO and the National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for UNESCO.