It was the custom in Khevsureti to betroth a girl and a boy while they were still in the cradle. The ritual is called datsindva and was performed by separate personalities or families in accordance with their wish to become close relatives. A similar tradition is evidenced throughout the whole of Caucasia as well as in some provinces of Georgia, such as Khevi, Racha, Achara, Svaneti and Meskhet-Javakheti.
A powerful family of good stock always prefers to find proper people to become related with, and when such a family was chosen, the usual method of betrothal was as follows: a delegate, in most cases the uncle of the “groom” was sent to the future bride’s house and left a symbolic present (silver coins, a silver necklace, etc.) hanging on the cradle. Besides that he handed bread, brandy and a sheep or some other cattle for slaughter to the girl’s parents to prepare simple food to mark the event and wish the newly betrothed couple good fortune.
According to custom, every year on New Year’s Day the boy’s parents sent a ritual cake, bediskveri, to their bride. When the betrothed girl and boy reached the appropriate age, their parents started to prepare for the wedding. The boy’s father sent several competent, experienced and eloquent men with sheep or calves for slaughter to his future relatives to fix the day of the wedding.
The bride had the right to choose and invite the attendants herself.
At the threshold of her father-in-law’s house the bride was met by some happily married women and after entering the room and taking her seat at the table, one of those women laid a one-year old baby in her lap.
It is noteworthy that during the festivities the bride and the groom stayed in separate rooms, as they were strictly forbidden to speak, even to look at each other.
The wedding ceremony lasted three days.
The youth of the village, akhalukhali, entertained the bride by dancing, singing, exchanging jokes and tales…
After one week, the bride was taken back to her father’s house where she stayed for a year.
In this peculiar way, apparently, the Khevsuris ensured the correctness of their choice and only after that started out in their independent life.
“A Khevsuri tries to build up his son’s sense of self-esteem and cultivate courage from his very childhood. The father never beats his son, never punishes him severely but speaks to him calmly, with restraint, as if he were a grown-up; he listens to the child’s response as if he were listening to the arguments of a dignified, experienced man. When a child enters the room, all of the people, even if there were forty men of venerable age there, get up to greet him: “Welcome home, (the name of the child)!” “Thanks, thanks! Please, sit down. I’m too very glad to see you in good health!” – says the boy in return to their salutation.”
Vazha – Pshavela
“The Kists happened to learn that one of their fellow villagers was intimate with a widow. It was an unheard-of occurrence in their aul. So, the Kists made up their minds to resort to the Shatilians (the natives of the village of Shatili in Khevsureti) for advice. But when they came to Shatili, they found no one but children there. It turned out that all of the grown-ups had gone to the hay mowing fields high up in the mountains. The disappointed Kists were about to leave when the children inquired about their concern and even offered their assistance.
The Kists gave the children a smile, however, accepted the proposal of the little Shatilions.
– A friend of ours is intimate with a widow, he behaves irresponsibly and we don’t know what to do, – said the Kists.
– Oh, it’s an easy job to do, – light-heartedly replied the little Khevsurs,
– you only have to hit the shadow of your “evil-doer” fellow-countryman with a gun at noon and it will knock some sense into his head. Otherwise, if he doesn’t change his mind, the gun will hit him a hard blow.
The Kists, amazed at the worldly wisdom of the little Shatilians, thanked them and left the village…”