August 10, 2017



Christ, King of glory, you have the power of life and death; have mercy on us, O God. Celebrating the memory of the Virgin the Mother of the Son of God, the angels rejoice in the heavens and the assemblies of apostles and prophets rejoice at the feast of the Virgin; have mercy on us, O God. We ask and pray to you mother and virgin, be our constant intercessor before your son and our God that he may save us from temptation and all assaults.

(From Canon for the Assumption of the Mother of God, according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church)


Archbishop Oshagan will travel to New England this weekend where on Sunday he will preside over the Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts. In the afternoon he will preside over the annual picnic and blessing of Madagh and grapes of Sts. Vartanantz Church of Providence, Rhode Island, that will take place at Camp Haiastan in Franklin, Massachusetts.


Bishop Anoushavan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy, deliver the sermon, and preside over the Blessing of the Grapes at St. Illuminator Cathedral in New York City. A luncheon will take place following the ceremonies.



Last Sunday St. Stephen’s Church of Watertown, Massachusetts, held its very popular annual picnic and the Blessing of Madagh and Grapes at Camp Haiastan in Franklin, Massachusetts. Here are some photos from the event.

Archbishop Oshagan leads the Blessing of Grapes and Madagh ceremony with the assistance of pastors from the New England area. From left, Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of St. Gregory Church, North Andover; Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Worcester; Archbishop Oshagan; Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, and Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian, pastor of  St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville.
Some of the congregants participating in the ceremony.

Archbishop Oshagan with 107-year-old genocide survivor Asdghig “Starrie” Alemian. The picnic dance area at Camp Haiastan where the Blessing of Grapes took place was renovated several years ago by her family in her honor.

Archbishop Oshagan and Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian with delegates at the ARS Convention in Arlington, Virginia.
Talin Daghlian, ARS Eastern USA Board of Directors Chair, presented Archbishop Oshagan with the Region’s prestigious Agnouni Award.

The delegates of Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Eastern United States convened in Arlington, Virginia in June for the organization’s 97th annual convention. Talin Daghlian, chair of the Regional Board of Directors, welcomed the delegates who over a period of two-and-a-half days, reflected on the prior year’s significant successes and debated over new milestones to achieve for the future.

During the proceedings, Ms. Daghlian presented Archbishop Oshagan with the region’s prestigious Agnouni Award, named for the founder of the ARS Edgar Agnouni (Khachadour Malumian). Archbishop Oshagan accepted the award with humility, saying that the honor inspiring the award belongs to God. He wished the ARS continued growth and great success.

Ms. Daghlian applauded the work of the chapters and the important fundraising successes achieved by the region that included raising more than $450,000 to support the international ARS effort to reconstruct the ARS Sosseh Kindergarten in Stepanakert. Additional donations to the region flowed from two major cultural entrepreneurship events: the Shadoyan Fashion Show in New Jersey and the Pinajian Art Exhibit in New York. The continued success and growth of the ARS Youth Connect Program that most recently drew 160 college-age Armenian students to learn more about Armenian history and current affairs was also a topic of discussion.

To read more about the ARS Eastern Regions convention click here.


Bible readings for Sunday, August 13, Feast of the Dormition and Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, are: Song of Songs 4:9-15; 8:14; Isaiah 7:10-16; Galatians 3:29-4:7; Luke 2:1-7. Lections for Blessing of Grapes: Proverbs 3:9-10; Isaiah 65:8-10; Hebrews 6:16-7:7; John 15:1-8.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)


"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings  Click Here.

This Saturday, August 12, is the Feast of Shoghakat of Holy Etchmiadzin that is always observed on the Saturday prior to the Feast of the Assumption. Shoghakat refers to the vision of St. Gregory and the rays of light when God chose the site for the Mother Cathedral. The feast is celebrated at the time of Assumption because the Cathedral in Etchmiadzin is named in honor of the Holy Mother, although through the years it became known as Etchmiadzin and Shoghakat refers to the three nearby churches of St. Gayaneh, St. Hripsimeh, and St. Shoghakat.



The Blessed Virgin Mary holds a high place in the Armenian Church, next to Christ. We begin our Divine Liturgy with these words, “Through the intercession of the holy Mother of God, O Lord, receive our supplications and save us.” In every Armenian Church the painting on the main altar is of Mary, holding the infant Savior. The Gospels teach us that Mary was blessed and called by God to fulfill God’s divine plan of salvation.  Mary has a primary place of honor because through her and by the Holy Spirit God became incarnate, became human.

This Sunday, August 13, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption (Verapokoum) of the Holy Mother of God, the fourth of the five major feast days in our Liturgical Calendar, and the Blessing of the Grapes. Verapokoum in classical Armenian means “transport up.” According to tradition, when the Holy Mother died she was buried by the apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. Bartholomew who was not present at her funeral wished to visit her grave. When the gravestone was lifted they were surprised to find that her body had disappeared. It was believed that Christ had come and taken his mother to the Heavenly Kingdom. They considered the empty tomb confirmation that the Holy Mother had not died, but had fallen asleep (dormition) and our Lord assumed His mother into heaven. Based on this event, the Church Fathers established the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is one of the five tabernacle feast days in the Armenian Church’s liturgical calendar. The feast is preceded by a week (five days) of fasting and followed by a memorial day.

Because Bartholomew was very fond of the Holy Mother, the apostle John gave him an image of her (which she had given to John). Bartholomew took this image with him to Armenia to Darbnots Kar in the province of Antsev, Vaspourakan (Western Armenia) where a convent for nuns, Hogyats Vank (Monastery of the Spirits), was built and where the icon was kept. Most depictions of Bartholomew show him holding this icon.

The concept of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is old as evidenced in sacred prose and poetry dedicated to the Holy Mother. However, it did not become a basic doctrine of the church until the ninth century and it was in the twelfth century that the feast was called “The Assumption.”

This Sunday is the name day for those named Mariam, Maro, Mary, Mari, Makrouhi, Mayrenie, Maroush, Serpouhi, Dirouhi, Takouhi, Lousig, Lousnag, Arousiag, Arpine, Markarid, Nazig, Azniv, Seta, Dzaghig, Verjin, Arshalouys.


The Blessing of the Grapes takes place on the Feast of the Assumption, although there is no connection between the two holidays. This ceremony is rooted in the Biblical tradition as commanded by God to the Israelites, through Moses, to donate the “first bearing of all their fruits, on the Tabernacle in order that with this first offering all fruits would receive Your blessing…” The hymn Park Sourp Khatchet (Glory to Your Sacred Cross) is sung; Biblical passages are recited, followed by a prayer composed by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali specifically for this occasion. After the prayer, the grapes are blessed three times with the words Orhnestsee Bahbanestsee and then the blessed grapes are distributed to the faithful, many of whom have refrained from eating grapes through the year until after this blessing.

Certainly we can say that the Blessing of the Grapes is a celebration of the fruitfulness of the earth. Grapes are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Noah planted a vineyard immediately after disembarking from the Ark (Genesis, Chapter 9) in Nakhichevan, Armenia. And, of course, the wine of the Divine Liturgy comes from grapes.

Bless, O Lord, the grape plants and vineyards from which these grapes are taken and presented to the holy church, and make them bountiful and fruitful; let them be like good and fertile land, protect the vineyard from all kinds of misfortune and destruction  which come from above because of our sins, from hail, from cold, from hot winds, and from destructive insects, so that we may enjoy that which You have created in this world for our enjoyment and for Your glory, and grant that we may be worthy to eat and drink with You from the bounty of Your most fruitful vine at the table of Your Father’s Kingdom, according to the just promise which You made, to the honor and glory of Your coexisting Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the most Holy Spirit to whom is due glory, power, and honor, now and forever. Amen. (From the prayer written by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali for the Blessing of the Grapes)


Monday, August 14, is Memorial Day (Merelotz). In accordance with the tradition of the Armenian Church, the day after each of the five tabernacle feasts is designated as a Memorial Day, a day of remembrance of the dead. Traditionally, on Merelotz the Divine Liturgy is celebrated with a requiem service for all souls and for those specifically requested. Following the service the clergy and faithful go to the cemetery where the graves of loved ones are blessed. 


The crisis in Syria requires our financial assistance.
Please keep this community in your prayers, your hearts, and your pocketbooks.





Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Armenian Apostolic Church of America
(Memo: Syrian Armenian Relief)

Thank you for your help.

Death of Grigor Harutiunian (Gorgin Khan, August 11, 1763)

The trade network centered in Nor Jugha, the suburb of Persian capital Ispahan founded in 1604 by Shah Abbas I after the forced migration from Eastern Armenia, soon had India as one of its first components. Armenian merchants (khwaja or khoja) competed with European commercial companies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and had an active presence in the Indian subcontinent. Their presence was not only commercial, but also extended to the political and military realms. One of the most striking cases was their participation in the Bengal rebellion of 1760-1763 against British power.

Khoja Bedros Harutiunian (Petrus Arathoon) was an intermediary between the British and Mir Jaffar, army commander of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-dowlah. The latter was defeated by the British in the Battle of Plassey (1757) due to the defection of his army commander, and Mir Jaffar was installed as Nawab with the support of the British East India Company. However, his failure to satisfy all British demands led to his removal, again with participation by Harutiunian.

Mir Jaffar’s brother-in-law, Mir Kasim, replaced him with the support of the Company. Upon ascending the throne, he repaid the British with lavish gifts and tried to please them. However, he was soon tired of British interference and endless demands, and yearned to break free of their influence. He shifted his capital from Murshidabad to Munger in present-day Bihar, where he raised an independent army, which he financed by streamlining tax collection. He also fought against corruption and waste of resources.

Born in Nor Jugha around 1730, Grigor Harutiunian (Khwaja Gregory), known as Gorgin Khan in Indian sources, was a younger brother of Bedros Harutiunian and a cloth merchant in Hooghly. He became a confidant of Mir Kasim, who designated him commander in chief of the Bengal army in 1760. He gathered more than a hundred Armenians, whom he designated as generals, colonels, and captains of the army, which had 40,000 soldiers (25,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry). He formed an artillery force, which he trained according to European methods.

From 1760-1763, Mir Kasim and the East India Company were in a sort of standoff. He opposed the British position that their imperial license meant that they could trade without paying taxes, while licensed local merchants were required to pay up to 40% of their revenue as tax. Frustrated at British refusal, Mir Kasim abolished taxes on the local traders as well, and upset the advantage that the British traders had been enjoying so far.

In 1763 hostilities broke out. The British occupied Patna, but forces sent by Gorgin khan and headed by Armenian captains Margar Kalantarian and Ghazar Hakobian, recovered the city. However, British attacks continued. Mir Kasim and Gorgin Khan decided to regroup their forces in the fortress of Rotosgara. On their way, they camped at the bank of the Delipur River. A day later, on August 10, 1763, when strolling through the encampment with his three bodyguards, Gorgin Khan was mortally wounded by a group of cavalry asking for their pay and died the next day. He was buried in the village of Barh. There are two versions about the authorship of this attack. One says that his brother Bedros had sent him a letter asking him to join the British, but he had rejected the offer. Mir Kasim’s informer had reported the Nawab about Bedros’s letter, and this was reason for the Bengali ruler to suspect the faithfulness of the Armenian commander. The second version is that the murder was organized by the British.

Deprived of Gorgin Khan’s organizational talent, the rebellion ended in a failure. Mir Kasim made an alliance with Shuja-ud-Daula of Avadh and Shah Alam II, the itinerant Mughal emperor, who were also threatened by the British. However, their combined forces were defeated in the Battle of Buxar in October 1764. Mir Kasim was expelled from his dominion and fled. He died in obscurity and abject poverty in 1777.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web page ( ).


The Anthropology Museum of the People of New York and the Armenian Cultural Educational Resource Center Museum at Queens College, 6419 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, New York, invite students and their families to visit the Museum, where touching artifacts is allowed and encouraged.


Currently on view are: “The Voyage of Human Origins” exhibit that covers multi-ethnic cultures and biological aspects of human origins and “Armenia: Memories From My Home” exhibit that shows the history of the Armenians from 9000-BCE to the present.


The Queens College free museum has been around since 2005. The Museum and Resource Center invite all students in public and private schools to visit the Museum with their teachers and learn about diverse cultures of the world. Educators should contact the Museum office (718-428-5650) to make arrangements for a visit. Parking arrangements are available.


(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

Come and Feel

The Armenian verb գալ (kal “to come”) is a word as dynamic as its English counterpart. One of the main dictionaries of the Armenian language, Eduard Aghayan’s Explanatory Dictionary of Modern Armenian (Արդի հայերէնի բացատրական բառարան, Yerevan, 1976), offers 33 entries for this word.

You have, of course, a gallery of compound words derived from kal, of which we are going to give two examples:

պարագայ (baraka “circumstance, case”), composed by պար (bar “around”) and գայ (ka, from kal), with the connective ա (a).

ապագայ (abaka “future”), which means “what comes after” (ապա/aba “after, later” and ka).

Moreover, because kal is an irregular verb, you have several words unrelated to the concept of “coming,” but nevertheless derived from kal, more exactly from the root of its imperative form, եկ-ուր (yegoor) (singular) and եկ-էք (yegek) (plural).  Here is an incomplete list:

եկամուտ (yegamood): “income.” As you may notice, both Armenian and English words have been composed in a similar way. English in-come means “what is coming in” and Armenian yeg-a-mood indicates something that “comes” (yeg) and “enters” (mood, the root of the verb մտնել/mudnel).

զեկոյց (zegooyts): “communication, report.” Here we find the prefix z again, but because it is followed by a vowel, we pronounce as it is: z-eg-ooyts (ooyts is a suffix, as in the word զրոյց/zurooyts “chat”).

իրազեկ (irazeg): “informed.”

The meaning of another verb, զգալ (uzkal “to feel”), seems unrelated at first sight. What relation can you find between “to come” and “to feel”? It comes out that you can find it.

The verb uzkal is derived from kal, with help from the quite common Classical Armenian prefix զ (z). Thus, kal > uz-kal (it is pronounced with a schwa, because it is followed by a consonant). Don’t you feel what comes to you? Yes, you do. Words have mysterious connections.

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web page (


Choose to Rise: The Victory Within is a historical novel, by M. N. Mekaelian, that begins in 1913 and “follows two brothers during the crumbling years of the Ottoman Empire as the government begins the systematic execution of 1.5 million Armenians.”

The author, Mikhail Mekaelian, is a proud graduate of the Prelacy’s St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program.


Here is a review of the book:Քըրքըս-Ռիվիուն-Կ՛անդրադառնայ-Միքա/

Choose to Rise: The Victory Within, softcover, 434 pages $19.99

To order this book contact the Prelacy Bookstore by email ( or telephone (212-689-7810).


August 13—St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City, Episcopal Divine Liturgy, Blessing of the Grapes, and Luncheon on the Feast of the Assumption . Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General. Luncheon, organized by the Ladies Guild, is $25 per person (free under 12). For information: or 212-689-5880.

August 13—Annual Church Picnic at Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts. Liturgy begins at 9:30 am under the auspices of Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate. Lunch served beginning at 12 noon on the church grounds. Enjoy shish, chicken, losh kebabs or a vegetarian dinner. Music by DJ Shaheen, tavloo tournament, Bouncy House for children. Traditional blessing of the grapes at 1 pm. Free admission and free parking.

August 13—Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, Blessing of the Grapes, and annual picnic on the church grounds.

August 14-20—Shushanig Summer Camp, Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey. For information: 201-943-2950.

August 20—Annual Church Picnic and Blessing of Grapes, Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church, 315 Church Street, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, with the participation of pastors of the New England area churches. Full menu of shish kebab, chicken kebab, losh kebab, kheyma, desserts, and Choreg sale, all beginning at 12 noon. Dance to the live music of The Mgrditchian Ensemble, rain or shine. For information: 508-234-3677.

September 9—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, opening of Nareg Armenian School.

September 14—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, 15th Annual Golf Classic.

September 17—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, opening of Sunday School.

October 2-6—Clergy Conference for Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies will take place in Montreal, hosted by the Prelacy of Canada.

October 7—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey presents “The Battle of the Bands.” Dance all night with two bands featuring Onnig Dinkjian and Kevork Artinian. Mezza and Dessert tables. For information and reservations contact: Bea Movsesian 201-445-6867; Lynn Mahlebjian 201-739-6217; Silva Kouyoumdjian 201-779-6744.

October 7-8—50th Anniversary Weekend, St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Saturday evening: “Golden Evening Kef Celebration,” featuring the Vosbikian Band.  Sunday, Golden Anniversary Banquet, following the Divine Liturgy. 

October 14—Armenian Friends of America, Inc., present “Hye Kef 5,” a five hour dance featuring Onnik Dinkjian with John Berberian (Oud); Mal Barsamian (Clarinet); Ara Dinkjian (keyboard); Ron Tutunjian (Dumbeg), at DoubleTree by Hilton, 123 Old River Road, Andover, Massachusetts. Tickets: $55 (before September 1); $65 (after September 1); $50 for students 21 and under. Continuous buffet 7:30 to 9:30 pm; coffee and dessert will follow. Advance tickets only. Proceeds will benefit five Armenian churches. For information: Sharke Der Apkarian 978-808-0598.

October 29CHANGE OF DATE / SAVE THE DATE. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, under the auspices and presence of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia. Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, at 10 am. Followed by reception and dinner at The New York Palace, 455 Madison Avenue, New York City.

December 5-8—World General Assembly of the Great House of Cilicia, at the Catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon.

The Armenian Prelacy 
Tel: 212-689-7810 ♦ Fax: 212-689-7168 ♦ Email:

Visit the Catholicosate webpage at