CHELMSFORD, Mass. — The walls of the Kazanjian Ballroom at Sts. Vartanantz Church were vibrating on Saturday, October 22, to the rhythmic clapping of some 160 guests as three parish young ladies dressed in traditional Armenian costumes gracefully danced into the ballroom each holding a “Ghapama” (a stuffed pumpkin) to the folk tune, Hey Jan Ghapama.
“Tonight , the meaning of the centuries old custom of Ghapama truly took on a new flavor,” commented Milka Jeknavorian, who had originally proposed the idea of combining music, dance, and the sumptuous Ghapama.” The idea of quickly excited a key group of ladies in the parish, who then with the support of the Women’s Guild, organized a spectacular evening for the community.“
With the ballroom beautifully decorated for the fall season, along with a very popular Armenian style photo station, the evening program began with a warm welcome and prayer by Father Khachatur Kesablyan. Yeretzgin Anna Kesablyan, the Ghapama committee chair, expressed the committee’s joy to see the ballroom filled with so many parishioners and friends who “are anxious to celebrate and share our rich and priceless culture and Christian heritage.”
Deacon Ara Jeknavorian next offered a narrated PowerPoint presentation about the meaning of Ghapama. At the conclusion of the presentation, Maria Kesablyan, Mila Shirikyan, and Grace Dion, dressed in traditional Armenian attire, danced into the ballroom to the popular folk song, Hey Jan Ghapama, each holding a Ghapama. The ballroom immediately filled with clapping and singing as the Ghapama dancers made their way around the ballroom. Following dinner, the evening continued with dancing with music provided by DJ Ray.
The proceeds from the evening were donated to support the Artsakh families of fallen or disabled soldiers defending Artsakh and Armenia against attacks by Azerbaijan. Commenting on the importance of dedicating the evening to the families of Artsakh, Yeretzgin Anna reflected, “we were blessed to have the opportunity to bring our parish families together this evening to celebrate our rich Armenian heritage and honor the sacrifice the of those who have defended our Artsakh and Armenian homelands, and that their families may have a dignified life.”