Kolkata's Armenians celebrate Christmas

Kolkata, Jan 6 : Armenian families in the West Bengal capital ushered in Christmas celebrations here Monday, with prayers and family gatherings.

As many as 30 families (nearly 70 children included) partied at the Armenian Sports Club premises here after the morning rituals at the Armenian Church of Kolkata.

Students from the community in native Armenia and Iran, studying at the Armenian College here also participated in the annual revelry.

The church, known as the the Holy Church of Nazareth and dating back to the early 18th century, was abuzz with chanting in Armenian as 150-odd members of the community gathered to start Christmas celebrations.

The Armenians follow the orthodox Julian calendar, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ as Jan 6. The event revolves around "Epiphany", when the Three Wise Men are believed to have brought gifts for Christ, as it was revealed to them that he was the son of God.

"Christmas is Christmas... it is mainly a family affair and all families get together for feasts. Gifts are distributed to children, and they enjoy amusements like pony rides etc.," Peter Hyrapiet, president of the Armenian Club of Kolkata, told IANS.

The children danced their way to popular Bollywood tracks as well as joined in with the elders to enjoy their traditional folk dance.

Vahan, a student studying in the city, who is set to go back to his country, said, "Its great to see the community integrating with the locals. We celebrate Durga puja, Western Christmas as well as our own Christmas."

Though several Armenians have married into other communities, the extended kith and kin are also made part of celebrations.

Those who have settled in other countries like the US and Australia also visit their families here at this time of year.

--IANS (Posted on 06-01-2014)

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