Lovers’ Day in Azerbaijan Date in the current year: June 30, 2024

Lovers’ Day in Azerbaijan A lot of countries celebrate love and lovers on February 14 (Valentine’s Day), but there are some exceptions. For example, Lovers’ Day in Azerbaijan is observed annually to commemorate the tragic love story of Ilham and Fariza Allahverdiyev.

Ilham and Fariza Allahverdiyev were an Azerbaijani married couple who fell victim to the events of Black January, a violent crackdown of the civilian population of Baku in January 1990. They were buried at the Alley of Martyrs in Baku, and their wedding anniversary has been unofficially celebrated as Lovers’ Day since 2004.

Ilham Allahverdiyev was born in 1962 in the town of Aghdam. After graduating from school and serving in the Soviet Army, he began working at a shipyard in Baku. When Perestroika began, Ilham actively participated in the numerous demonstrations in support of Azerbaijan’s independence alongside fellow workers.

During the same period Ilham decided to start a family at his parents’ insistence. According to Azerbaijani tradition, Ilham’s relatives began to look for a bride, but Ilham was already in love with his sister’s classmate Fariza, who reciprocated his feelings. In addition, Fariza supported Ilham’s political views and even attended rallies with him.

Fariza’s parents gave their consent for the wedding on March 8, 1989. The couple got engaged on March 19, on the eve of the Novruz holiday. The so-called “women’s wedding” took place on June 11, and the “men’s wedding” — the main wedding ceremony — was held on June 30 at the newly opened Leyla Wedding House in Baku. In early January 1990, Ilham and Fariza were given a new apartment by the factory where Ilham worked; the Allahverdiyevs spent just one night there.

On January 19, 1990, a state of emergency was introduced in Baku in order to suppress the independence movement. Ilham took Fariza to his mother’s home to keep her safe and joined his friends who came out to meet Soviet troops entering the city. He stood in front of a tank, raising his hands to show that he was unarmed, and was one of the first civilian protesters shot by Soviet soldiers. Ilham was taken to the hospital, but surgeons were unable to save him because he had lost too much blood.

Upon learning of her husband’s death, Fariza tried to commit suicide. She doused herself in oil and tried to set herself on fire, but her relatives saved her and began to watch her closely to prevent another suicide attempt. However, Fariza couldn’t live without her husband. On the day of Ilham’s reburial at the Alley of Martyrs, she waited until everyone was asleep and drank a glass of vinegar to poison herself.

Fariza was found in the morning and taken to the hospital, but died in the ambulance. At the time of her death she was two months pregnant with her first child with Ilham. At first, their families wanted to bury the couple in the same grave, but in the end Ilham and Fariza were buried in two graves side by side, facing each other. The anniversary of Ilham and Fariza’s wedding, June 30, has been unofficially celebrated as Lovers’ Day since 2004.

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Lovers’ Day in Azerbaijan, observances in Azerbaijan, Ilham and Fariza Allahverdiyev, Black January