“And what kind of person are you?” – A Doukhobor. – Why are you called doukhobor? Because God is a spirit, God is a word, God is a man. I praying and give my regards to God with the help of the spirit. That is why I’m a doukhobor.”
According to the Free Dictionary, doukhobor is a member of a religious sect originating in Russia in the 18th century, believing in the supreme authority of the inner voice, rejecting the establishment of churches, and opposing civil authority.
Due to the severe climate and difficulty with access Samtshe-Djavhetia region is called Georgian Siberia. The members of the Russian doukhobors were deported as they refused to serve the military duty while following the commandment «Thou shalt not kill». The doukhobors or so-called spirit fighters arose at the end of the 18th century in Tambov province and in Ukraine. Spiritfighting is a Christian-Protestant doctrine, which refuses the formalism of a church. The main religious symbols are bread, salt and water.
Communication with God is held under the guidance of the elders of the community in a special place – “The Orphans’ house” The pilgrims spent the first hard winter in the highland Djavkhetia in a land hollow “Terpenie” (Patience). More than 7000 people died of hunger and coldness then. The survived ones built 8 villages along the river Paravani. New villages were named as the spiritfighters’ settlements in Zaporozhie: Bogdanovka, Rodionivka, Efremovka, Tambovka, Kalinino, Orlovka and Gorelovka. Now only the last two are inhabited. The population of Gorelovka is 300 people; mostly senior ones and the majority of them are spiritfighters. It is one of the strongest communities where the world’s soulfighters’ relics are kept.
In Gorelovka, which is situated at an elevation of 2000 meters above the sea level, among the white mountain tops there are whitened houses with carved window shutters, well groomed gardens and palings. People with the typical Slavic appearance speak Russian. Gorelovo residents wear national clothing whish is passed from generation to generation. Every Sunday Morning Prayers takes place in the “Orphans’ House, though less and less people come there. There is no more than 30 people gather, says the local Tatiana Osipova. Less than 800 out of almost 7000 spiritfighters who lived here at the end of the 80s are left in Georgia. After the dissolution of the USSR many members of the community emigrated from Russia into Canada. The houses of the departing people are bought by Armenian migrants from the nearby villages who are bringing different way of life and thinking. Thought as Gorelovo residents are saying no matter what difficulties arise on their way, they will never abandon this place.