ARMENIAN COMMUNITY CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS IN CHENNAI
The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on 6th of January. On this day, it also celebrates the 'Epiphany' (which means the revelation that Jesus is God's son). Epiphany is now mainly the time Churches remember the Visit of the Wise Men to Jesus;
but some Churches, like the Armenian Apostolic Church, also celebrate the Baptism of Jesus when he started his ministry on Epiphany day. All Armenian Churches on 6th January conduct Christmas Mass.
The Armenian Church in Chennai (former Madras) constructed in 1712 and reconstructed in 1772, is one of the oldest churches of the Indian subcontinent. The Church which is also called the Armenian Church of Virgin Mary, is located on the Armenian Street, Chennai, South India. Armenian Church in Madras doesn't conduct Mass, because there are very few Armenians living in Chennai.
This year we - Armenians from Chennai and Bangalore decided to keep our national and religious traditions and celebrate Christmas together at The Armenian church, Chennai.
Two of us were from Bangalore: Michael Stephen, 46, a former caretaker of the Saint Mary’s Church, Chennai, who is a fourth-generation Armenian with a history that reaches back to Julfa, Persia and Narek Gevorgyan, 25, who moved from Yerevan a year ago for business and now runs a software firm in Bangalore.
Among us were Hratsjuhi Aramyan, 32, who married Manoj Kumar and moved to Auroville years ago and now she teaches vocal music at the KM Music Conservatory, Chennai; Medrik Minassian and Armen Markarian, two students pursuing a Master’s in Political Science at the Madras Christian College, are originally from Tehran. The young men completed their schooling at the Armenian Collage and Philanthropic Academy and La Martiniere, Kolkata; and I am Ashkhen Khachatryan - the Coordinator of the Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO in Ijevan, Armenia. I moved to Chennai 3 months ago after getting married to Kapilan Jesudian, who is an architect in Chennai. From now onwards I will be representing IAF in Chennai.
The "Mass" of this small community began with bells ringing and incense burning. Then, the Mother See of Holy Communion Echmiadzin’s Christmas Mass’s video was played out and the Lord's Prayer said, and religious songs were sung.
At the Church, among us was an Indian lady as well, who was praying with us. She had worked for Armenian families in Lebanon for many years. She took part in the service as she could understand the Armenian language and was very excited to be there with our community. She told us how she had enjoyed working with those families. She remembered that Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6th and so came to church to pray.
There were two students from W.C.C. Chennai who came to the Armenian church to collect information about Armenia and the Armenian church as part ot their curriculum. We talked to them, answered all their questions.
Later my husband, Kapilan Jesudian and I invited the gathering over to our house for Christmas lunch. The Christmas meal consists of Pilaf with rice and dried fruits, fish, greens, salads, red wine, dried fruits and nuts.
No matter we are few in number but hopefully we will keep this tradition go on. As Paryur Sevak, famous Armenian poet said: “We are less but they called us Armenians”.
Looking forward to see more Armenians here in Chennai for other celebrations.