Bond over recipes, storytelling, art and craft connected to the pomegranate at the annual festival in Goychoy, Azerbaijan.
Who can eat the most pomegranates? Who can squeeze the most juice from this red fruit? Who can showcase the largest pomegranate? Head to the Festival of Pomegranates, celebrated in Goychay district, Republic of Azerbaijan, for the answers.
The area is renowned for the most number of pomegranate species in the world and is considered the global pomegranate capital. The Goychay Pomegranate Festival (Nar Bayrami) was instituted in 2006 (and first held on November 3) and is held annually in October-November.
In 2020, the UNESCO added this festival to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity to celebrate the traditional uses of the fruit, the practices, traditions and skills related to its cultivation, and its varied uses as food.
Symbol of love
The fruit is also seen as a symbol of productivity and abundance and giver of energy. Local legends associate the pomegranate with love and passion and the fruit appears in traditional crafts and decorative arts.
Beginning with a parade with traditional Azerbaijani music and dances, the people also bond over recipes, storytelling, art and craft all connected to the pomegranate. Fruits grown in different parts of the district (around 50,000 tonnes annually) are showcased and products like juice, concentrate, jam, jelly, wine, grenadine, seeds in syrup and more are also displayed. Some locals use the seeds to tell fortunes.
Known as Nar in Azerbaijani, it is regarded as the king of fruits and the most famous varieties are Veles, Shirin, Guleisha, and Shihbaba.
Nar the pomegranate appeared on the official logo of the 2015 European Games held in Azerbaijan and was one of the two mascots.
It also featured in the jackets of the male athletes at the opening ceremony.
Goychay is also famous for the Narsharab, a pomegranate sauce that is served with various dishes and also used for health purposes.
The heaviest pomegranate recorded so far weighed more than 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds).