Vardavar or Vartavar (Armenian: Վարդավառ, Homshetsi: Vartevor or Behur)) is an Armenian festival in Armenia where people drench each other with water. The festival is also observed by Hemshin people of Turkey, a Muslim majority group of Armenian origin.
Although now a Christian tradition, celebrating the transfiguration of Jesus Christ (the Feast of the Transfiguration), Vardavar's history dates back to pagan times. The ancient festival is traditionally associated with the goddess Astghik, who was the goddess of water, beauty, love, and fertility. The festivities associated with this religious observance of Astghik were named “Vartavar” because Armenians offered her roses as a celebration (vart means "rose" in Armenian and var means "to burn/be burning", this is why it was celebrated in the harvest time).
Vardavar is generally celebrated 98 days (14 weeks) after Easter in the republic. In some regions, however, it is held on different days, and traditions differ too.
During the day of Vardavar, people from a wide array of ages are allowed to douse strangers with water. It is common to see people pouring buckets of water from balconies on unsuspecting people walking below them. The festival is very popular among children as it is one day where they can get away with pulling pranks. It is also a means of refreshment on the usually hot and dry summer days of July or late June.
Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia (FYCA) each year organizes the "Vardavar International Festival" which is cognitive, educational, cultural festival. Every year it takes place in medieval monastery of Geghard and old pagan temple of Garni. The festival aims to present the Armenian national and traditional culture.
In addition to the celebrations, the traditional ceremony of splashing water on each other and the blessings of the youth, the Armenian folk songs are also included and performed by the Nairyan Vocal Ensamble. The Vardavar holiday theme pavilions represent the traditions and handmade works of different regions of Armenia.