e-Tsayn e-Voice is a publication of
The Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate Department of Mission Parishes Rev. Fr. Tateos R. Abdalian, Director www.armenianchurch.net Diocesan Office: 212.686.0710
Email: dertateos@ armeniandiocese.org
The Traditional Celebration of Ascension Day Ascension Day (Thursday June 2) is a very important church feast because it recalls and celebrates the final earthly event in Christ's life. It is, in a way, the fulfillment of Christ's entire earthly ministry as Saviour of the world. The story of Christ's ascension to heaven and His sitting at the right hand of the Father is recounted only in two of the gospels, Mark (16:19) and Luke (24:50-51). Luke also mentions the Ascension in the Acts of the Apostles. We know that the apostles returned to Jerusalem after Christ's ascension and spent their time in prayer in the Upper Room where they had eaten the Last Supper with Jesus. At this time they felt the need to restore the number of apostles to 12, electing someone to replace Judas (Acts 1: 24-26). The traditional Armenian vijag (or "casting of lots") ceremony is derived from this event in the life of the young church. Casting of lots is not unique to Armenians; we know that the 12 tribes of Israel received their inheritance of land by lot (Numbers 26:55-56). Also, the order of priestly service for the tribe of Levi was determined by casting of lots. This folk custom of vijag on Ascension Day reflects the Armenian peasant's close link with and love of nature. The Armenian people believed that on the eve of Ascension the skies would be illumined with unusually bright lights as the heavens opened to receive the victorious Christ into the presence of God the Father. At this time, folk culture tells us, all of created nature, the sky and the earth, mountains and valleys, rocks, trees and vegetation, and the waters would enter into a profound joy, embracing each other in a mystical language. They would convey to each other their healing powers. People believed that anyone who watched for this fleeting moment of joyous celebration, would also understand nature's language and any of their good desires would be granted. Folk piety also held that on the eve of Ascension, all running streams and rivers would stand still for a second, receiving a miraculous healing power. Many people would bathe themselves in rivers and streams on this night. The children already sleeping were bathed the next morning with heated water to which herbs and plants had been added.
The most famous of the variety of ways of casting lots is the one that is called vijagakhagh. This is how it was done. Wednesday morning before Ascension Thursday, young girls would go to gather flowers from seven different homes. Then towards evening they would take a pail and go to seven households or to seven fountains to fill their pails with water. This ritual, called "stealing water," forbids any talking, looking back, or placing the water pails on the ground. The flowers or herbs would be added to the pail. Each person participating in the vijagakhagh would place a personal belonging (nishan) -- such as a ring, bracelet, or necklace -- into the pail. This pail was placed out in the open at night, under the stars, so that the stars would influence the nishans and grant their owners their hearts' desires. Throughout the night, young girls would keep watch over the vijag pail, so that the young men of the neighborhood would not snatch it away. If the boys managed to do so, the girls would have to give a ransom to get the vijag pail back. After church on Ascension Thursday, all the participants took the vijag pail and would go on a picnic, or gather in someone's backyard. One of the girls dressed up as a bride. Usually this girl would have to be the eldest daughter of a family. Vijag songs were sung and verses were recited. After each song or verse, the bride drew out of the pail one of the nishans. To whomever the object belonged, that song or verse would become her vijag or her lot.
The Battle of Sardarabad (1918) The Battle of Sardarabad was a battle of the Caucasus Campaign of World War I that took place near Sardarabad, Armenia from May 21 to May 24, 1918. Sardarabad was only 40 kilometers west of the city of Yerevan and the battle is currently seen as not only stopping the Turkish advance into the rest of Armenia but also preventing the complete destruction of the Armenian nation. Just two months after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, the Ottoman Empire attacked into what had been RussianArmenian territory. In violation of the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty with the Russians, elements of the Fourth Army crossed the border in May 1918 and attacked Alexandropol (modern-day Gyumri). The Ottoman Army intended to crush the Armenia and seize Transcaucasia. At that time, only a small area of historical Armenian territory which used to be a part of the Russian Empire remained unconquered by the Ottoman Empire, and into that area hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees had fled after the Armenian Genocide. The Ottoman Forces began a three-pronged attack in an attempt to conquer Armenia. When Alexandropol fell, the Ottoman Army moved into the Ararat Valley â€“ the heart of Armenia. Armenians under Major General Movses Silikyan defeated the Ottoman troops in a three day battle at Sardarabad as well as Abaran and Karakilisa. The Catholicos, deeply saddened by the suffering of his people, ordered the bells of the mother church in Etchmiadzin as well as the bells of all Armenian churches around the country to ring all day, calling his people to come to the aid of their fighting soldiers and to participate in the defense of their fatherland. Yeznik
Vartabed, himself a good shot, took with him a group of young churchmen and members of the congregation of Etchmiadzin and went to the front to fight the invaders. Bishop Karekin Hovsepian (later Catholicos of Cilicia) rode on horseback among the troops and eloquently encouraged and inspired the troops to fight. The old men and women, and the young girls and boys carried water, food and ammunition to the front by foot, on donkeys and in ox carts. Colonel Pirumian was commanding the battle superbly, and the Armenians fought methodically and coolly under his command. These united people fought for 48 hours until the enemy was forced to retreat. After the Battle of Sardarabad, the Armenian representatives negotiated with the Turks in Tiflis and the independence of a little Armenia was proclaimed. Armenia declared its independence effective from 28 May, 1918. However, the victories here were instrumental in allowing the Armenian National Council in Tiflis to establish the independence of the Democratic Republic of Armenia. Worried by the Ottoman invasion of Armenia, the Democratic Republic of Georgia to the north asked for, and gained, German protection. The Democratic Republic of Armenia was forced to sign the Treaty of Batum in June 4, 1918, since the Army of Islam held positions seven kilometers from Yerevan and only 10 kilometers from Etchmiadzin. Two days later, after the battle of Sardarabad on May 28, 1918 Armenian National Council in Tiflis proclaimed the independence of the Democratic Republic of Armenia, which existed until the Bolshevik takeover of Armenia in November 1920. The Sardarabad Memorial is located in Armavir, Armenia, 25 kilometers from Echmiadzin. In 1968 during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Sardarabad a memorial park was laid out on the spot of the battlefield. The entrance is flanked by huge winged oxen made of red tuff. A flight of steps leads to a square from which a 26-metre-high bell tower rises. The beautiful trellis structure with its nine bells can be seen from afar. The bells ring every year on the day of the historic victory. The monument is guarded by massive ancient style Armenian-winged lions, and is flanked by a memorial garden for Karabakh (Arstakh) martyrs. Sardarabad Memorial is a symbol of pride and survival, the Sardarabad Memorial marks the place of Armenia's successful last-ditch effort to save the nation from obliteration at the hands of the Turks. Against tremendous odds, and during the haunting backdrop of genocide during the previous few years, Armenia's makeshift army rebuffed the Turkish troops and safeguarded the small portion of historic Armenia, what became the current republic as it stands today.
The Origins of Memorial Day Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried
the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead." While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868 i. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit. We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic. If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us. Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from his honor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan. ii. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith. iii.
Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of JOHN A. LOGAN, Commander-in-Chief
N.P. CHIPMAN, Adjutant General Official: WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.
and finally . . .
The further adventures of Abarantsee Bedo . . . and his wife Maro Abarantsee Bedo and his wife Maro are driving along when he is pulled over by a cop. The following conversation takes place: Bedo:
What eez prublem offee-sir?
You were going at least 75 in a 55 zone.
No, no sur, I vuz going 55.
Aman Bedo. You ver going it 80.
Bedo gives his wife a dirty look and says quietly in Armenian, "Aye gneeg! meaning, Woman, shut your mouth! Cop:
I'm also going to give you a ticket for your broken taillight.
Brok-it tail light? I dun't know nutting about brok-it taillight!
Aman, Bedo, you know about tail light fur 2 weeks.
Bedo gives his wife another dirty look and says a little louder, "Aye gneeg!
I'm also going to give you a citation for not wearing your seat belt.
Oh, offee-sir I just take it off ven I see you cuming to car.
Aman, Bedo you nevur wear you seat belt.
Bedo now is furious, gives his wife another dirty look and says loudly in both Armenian and English, "Aye gneeg! Peranut pageh! Woman, shut your mouth!" Cop:
Ma'am, does your husband always talk to you this way?
Oh, no, no, no! Only ven he drunk.