A Fond Look at the Grassroots of Armenia

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A Fond Look at the Grassroots of Armenia

By Lucine Kasbarian

Appearing in Mayr Yegeghetzi, Prelacy Crossroads and USA Armenian Life magazine.

On Sunday, March 17, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral hosted Mr. Hovsep Dagdigian from Harvard, Massachusetts who delivered a PowerPoint presentation called “Unseen Armenia,” based on a series of recurring articles he has written for the Armenian press.

For many years now, Hovsep and his friend, Vova Tshagharyan, former director of Armenia's Shengavit Historical and Archaeological Culture Preserve, have been travelling the Armenian, Artsakh and Western Armenian countrysides in search of archaeological sites, forgotten monuments, natural wonders and village lore.

In his introductory remarks, St. Illuminator’s Pastor, Reverend Father Mesrob Lakissian, introduced Hovsep, praising this Armenian-American’s life-long commitment to the Armenian nation. Hovsep learned to speak fluent Armenian as a college-age adult thanks to full cultural immersion at the Antelias Theological Seminary and the Nishan Palandjian Jemaran, both in Lebanon.

Using visual examples, Hovsep took parishioners on a virtual tour of locations -- many unknown to the people of the Diaspora and even Armenia itself. Some of the spectacular sites presented included a hidden chapel in the Sisian region where Vartan Mamigonian prayed before going into battle; ancient petroglyph inscriptions north and east of Keghart Monastery; the rock pillar in the village of Lezk, near Van in Western Armenia, where it is said that the legendary King Ara Keghetsig’s body was placed after resisting Queen Shamiram’s efforts to capture him; medieval cemeteries in the Armavir province; the sheep shearing festival in the Syunik region; the Armenian Cosmic Ray Division station on Mt. Arakadz; celebrations by and for the Armenians of Musa Dagh; and monuments of Armenian fedayees found in remote locations. Hovsep memorably led viewers to an enormous statue of Armenian freedom fighter Kevork Chavoush, near Khor Virab; the Kevork Chavoush museum in Ashnag, Aragatsotn marz; and the Sulukh Bridge in the Moush region of Western Armenia where Chavoush was mortally wounded resisting the Turkish onslaught.

Members of the audience encouraged Hovsep to continue his documentation on the Internet while others expressed interest in joining him on his junkets.

The presentation was a powerful reminder that some of the poorest Armenians in far-flung places are also among the most kind, friendly and hospitable -- eager to welcome visitors and share village history and folklore. In turn, such visits have presented Hovsep and Vova the opportunity to understand how Armenia and the Diaspora can help such Armenians develop their economy and assure them that they are not the forgotten people of the country.

It is to be hoped that Prime Minister Pashinyan’s recent unannounced visits to the Armenian provinces will complement the morale-enhancing ones made by Hovsep and Vova for the past 10 years and encourage others to follow their example.

Hovsep’s articles may be accessed on Armeniapedia here: