Detroiters Celebrate Knights and Daughters Anniversaries


DETROIT – On November 16th, the Knights of Vartan Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge 100th Anniversary and the Daughters of Vartan Zabelle Chapter 70th Anniversary was celebrated with an elaborate dinner-dance in Detroit with over 200 guests. Special guest in attendance from Fresno, California was Knights of Vartan Grand Commander Steve R. Adams who also made an official visitation to the local Lodge (Tahlij) and met with Past Grand Commanders Vahram G. Fantazian, Simon Javizian, Edward H. Korkoian and Dr. Gary Zamanigian.

Shavarshan Lodge was instituted in 1918, named after the sacred battlefield where Vartan the Brave and his comrades fell, in defense of their Christian faith and for the Freedom of Conscience of the Armenian People. Nareg Lodge was instituted in 1954. The name “NAREG” was chosen in honor of St. Gregory of Nareg, the 10th-century Armenian theologian and poet, who is considered to be the most outstanding figure in the Armenian literary heritage. The two Lodges have been working side by side and eventually on May 1, 1996, the two Lodges in Detroit merged as Nareg-Shavarshan.

The lodge has contributed to the growth and advancement of the Knights of Vartan nationally under the leadership of its illustrious sons: Alex Manoogian, Hagop S. Derderian, Vahram G. Fantazian, Simon Javizian, Edward H, Korkoian and Dr. Gary Zamanigian as Grand Commanders of the Brotherhood.

Zabelle Chapter was established on September 30, 1950 in Detroit. It was named after Queen Zabelle, the daughter of King Levon I. Mrs. Marie Manoogian was the first Dirouhie, who served from 1950-1952.

The Zabelle Chapter and Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge have an extremely warm relationship. They work together to further the goals of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan.

After numerous activities during last 100 years, now was the time for Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge and Zabelle Chapter to celebrate their 100th and 70th anniversaries on November 16, 2019. Upon arrival, guests entered an elegantly ornamented ballroom and then were treated to a sumptuous assortment of Armenian hors d’oeuvres after which Past Grand Commander Vahram Fantazian welcomed everyone and invited Asbed Rev. Armash Bagdasarian, Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian, Pastor Hagop Haroutunian and Msgr. Andon Atamian to say Grace. A delicious gourmet dinner was prepared and then presented with French banquet service.

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Following Dinner, the Commander of Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge, Kazar Terterian, and the Matron of Zabelle Chapter, Lisa Aglamishian thanked everyone for attending the dinner-dance on this special occasion.

A video, prepared by the Knights of Vartan Communications Office Liaison in Armenia Gohar Palyan, of the Knights of Vartan School #106 gymnasium renovation in Yerevan, sponsored by the Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge and Zabelle Chapter, was then shown. More than $30,000 was raised by the Knights and Daughters in Detroit to make the gymnasium renovation a reality.

Next, on behalf of the Daughters of Vartan Grand Matron Alice Kalustian of Los Angeles, Detroiter Gloria Korkoian, the Midwest Grand District Representative, presented 100th and 70th Anniversary Certificates to Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge Commander Terterian and Zabelle Chapter Matron Aglamishian respectively. The program proceeded with the Knights of Vartan Midwest Grand District Representative Dr. Larry Farsakian from Chicago introducing Grand Commander Steve R. Adams who spoke eloquently, motivating and inspiring everyone present. He then presented a 100th Anniversary Certificate to the Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge Commander.

“One hundred years ago the Detroit Armenians didn’t have Armenian established churches nor priests nor organizations that could provide any aid but the Armenians of that era had two important qualities: Firstly: Belief in God and Secondly Armenian National Sprit. And because of these qualities they thought about establishing this organization to help, to the best of their abilities, the broken genocide Armenian victims who were in dire need of help. This evening we have come together to observe 100 years of service to the Armenian people” said Commander Kazar P. Terterian during his speech.

The night continued with everyone listening to the talented singer Kevork Artinian and dancing to the music of His All Star Band. The entire evening was extraordinary and went on well into the early morning hours.

Everyone enjoyed the celebration and it was an opportunity to remember all the charities the Lodge and Chapter did over the years together. Every year they hold different events to raise funds. The funds raised from different activities supported a number of institutions such as the Sourp Khach Tbrevank in Istanbul, spearheading the establishment of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and assuring the accreditation of the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian School in Southfield, promoting Armenian relief programs, generously contributing to the St. John Armenian Church Building Fund Campaign, sponsoring social dances and various youth activities. They helped to set up and launch A.G.B.U.’s “Camp Ararat”.

The Knights of Vartan was ready to face the challenges of the 1988 earthquake in Gyumri as well as the opportunities brought about by the subsequent independence of the Republic of Armenia. It was in 1988 then Shavarshan Lodge, raised more than $150,000 for earthquake relief for Armenia.

Over the years the Nareg-Shavarshan contributed to the humanitarian assistance programs of the Brotherhood. In 2008 money was raised to send anesthesiology equipment to the medical center in the city of Gyumri, Armenia. During the financial crunch of 2009 the Knights and Daughters of Vartan raised $20,000 at a New Year’s Eve Celebration, and equally distributed the proceeds among the four Armenian Churches of Greater Detroit.

For the last 12 years, the  Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge facilitated “Armenia Fest” a free public event at the historic Farmers Market in Royal Oak Michigan, primarily designed to bring the Armenian Community together and at the same time to showcase our rich cultural heritage to the general public. Funds raised at “Armenia Fest” are donated to humanitarian projects especially in recent years to the Syrian Relief Fund, supporting annual commemorations of Vartanantz and April 24 with the Detroit metropolitan community.

Like their namesake, the Sisters of Zabelle Chapter are dedicated and committed to preserving and sharing Armenian religion, history and culture. Zabelle Chapter’s annual fundraiser “Manti and More,” which is in its 20th year, benefits their charitable donations along with other fundraising events. The amount of the annual donations is based on proceeds from fund raising events. Annual fundraisers began with Luncheons and Fashion Shows in the 1970s. The funds supported school and kindergarten renovations, scholarships, child support, soup kitchens, housing, potable water pipeline renovation, churched, Red Cross projects, health issues, environmental issues, Armenian research, disabled children and youth, women support and more. From 1970-2019, the  Zabelle Chapter donated more than $240,000 to 67 charities on the local, national and international levels.

As we embark on a new millennia, Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge remains steadfast to the aims and aspirations of its Founding Fathers.

For more information about the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, visit

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