Vartanants Commemorated by Knights of Vartan at NY Armenian Diocese

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By Aram Arkun
Mirror-Spectator Staff

NEW YORK — The Mid-Atlantic Region of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan under the auspices of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) presented a dinner program in commemoration of Vartanants on March 3 at the Haig and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium of the Diocesan complex here. Hagop Vartivarian was the keynote speaker, and there was a musical component to the program. The event was well attended, with as many as 220 people in the audience.

Ani Minnetyan served as mistress of ceremonies, and Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian gave the invocation, while Diran Cankulian, Mid- Atlantic Lodge chairman, welcomed the guests. Daughters of Vartan Arpi Candan, Mid-Atlantic grand district representative, read a message of greetings from Grand Matron Melene Ouzounian from Fresno, Calif., who could not be present at the occasion. Knights of Vartan Grand Commander Dennis Papazian then pointed out that St. Vartan Cathedral was built by those following in the footsteps of Vartan Mamigonian, many of whom were members of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan. The Knights and Daughters, determined to follow in the footsteps of Vartan Mamigonian and Ghewond Yerets, were still ready to continue in their mission.

Fr. Mardiros Chevian, cathedral dean and advisor to the 2011 Vartanants Commemoration Committee, introduced Deacon Ryan Ezras Tellalian, a pastoral intern at St. Leon A r m e n i a n Church in Fair Lawn, NJ, and a recent graduate of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. Tellalian, a future priest in the Armenian Church, reflected briefly on the personal, primal meaning of Vartanants. He wondered whether he would have been able to sacrifice himself at the Battle of Avarayr. Similarly, he wondered how much he would be willing to give up to serve God today. Tellalian added that this was a question to ponder for all Christians.

The Huyser Musical Ensemble of St. Illuminator Cathedral presented several Armenian songs. The group, established in September 2010 under the artistic direction of Harout Barsoumian and the musical direction of Karine Barsoumian, was represented on March 3 by Harout and Maria Barsoumian, and Ani Djirdjirian.

Keynote speaker Vartivarian, chairman of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of Greater New York and a prolific contributor to the Armenianlanguage press whose interviews have been republished as a series of volumes called Hantibumner [Meetings], spoke in Armenian. He dwelled on the Armenian national as well as religious meaning and lessons of Vartanants, and on the important work carried out by the Knights of Vartan. (The full text of Vartivarian’s lecture is presented at left in English translation.)

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The evening concluded with a talk and benediction by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, who spoke in both English and Armenian. Barsamian stressed the importance of the mission of Vartanants and the need to defend the Armenian Christian faith with the same force and conviction today. He felt that the foundation of today’s Armenian identity was forged during this period of medieval Armenian history. Barsamian congratulated all those whose name day it was.

The dinner was prepared, served and sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Lodges and Otyags of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan.