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Mardi Gras celebration at Zazanova creates a New Orleans atmosphere in Tbilisi

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, February 15
From February 8th to 12th Zazanova hosted a Mardi Gras festival. A party atmosphere was created in Tbilisi in the style of similar festivals in Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans and Venice. People in festive clothes and masks gathered at Zazanova to listen to jazz music and share the mood of New Orleans, taste Louisianian cuisine and drink special fruit cocktails made by Hennessy, the famous cognac house.

Founders of Zazanova, musician Zaza Marjanishvili and his wife Marina Salukvadze, created the festival. After his 18 years of living in the U.S.A., Marjanishvili decided to create “a meeting place" for Georgian people so that they could forget their everyday problems and have a nice time.

Mardi Gras is a French word and means “Fat Tuesday.” This festival is celebrated the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which begins the period of 40 days of fasting before Easter called Lent.

Marina Salukvadze explained to The Messenger that since Zazanova only recently opened the Mardi Gras celebration was modest. She said next year they will either invite participants from New Orleans to Tbilisi and/or send Georgian musicians to New Orleans.

The festival started with a traditional march of brass-bands. Decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, gold and pink, Zazanova became a miniature Bourbon Street hosting various Georgian musicians on its stage. Jazz musician Maia Baratashvili performed various jazz songs, asked trivia questions about jazz and gave CDs to the winners.

"When a person performs the compositions of world famous musicians it is impossible to feel unhappy." Baratashvili said at the end of her concert. Baratashvili performed again with Nino Katamadze. The two singers created a relaxed, friendly atmosphere at Zazanova.

Welcoming the creation of more and more festivals in Tbilisi, Katamadze hoped the festival will become an important part of Zazanova because Majanishvili lived in New Orleans for ten years.

The Mardi Gras festival closed with Zaza Marjanishvili’s concert where he performed never before heard songs. Afterwards Marjanishvili shared with The Messenger his future plans. He said he will leave for the U.S. for a month or more to record a new album.