Armenians trip down memory lane 400 years in Kolkata

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Kolkata, Nov 14 (UNI) The natal star of the Armenian community in Kolkata appeared a century before the earth could make 300 revolutions after the city was born.

Hundreds of Armenians across the globe, including the UK, US, Turkey, Iran and Australia, gathered in the city to celebrate 400 years of the community here on Wednesday.

Passers-by were liable to mistake the city's Armenian College Ground on Free School Street as a neighbourhood in Armenia.

All of them ambulated to attend the quadricentennial celebration, which was realised in a host of cultural programmes.

Many of them were the students of the Armenian College many years ago.

'' Oh the times! Oh the manners! The city once teemed with Armernians and some of them even owned the bungalows and bread-and-breakfast joints dotting the city. Today I see none, '' exclaimed an Armenian, who landed the city's soil after 50 years.

Taking a stroll down memory lane, another Armenian, a septuagenarian, said, '' The Armenian community, which witnessed its height of glory in the 20th century, also led an active club life.

The Armenians built most of the ghats on the banks of Hoogly. But now, the Armenian community is reduced to 35 families. '' Meanwhile, the celebrations reached its climax when His Holiness Karekin II, the worldwide religious head of the Armenians, came all along from Armenia and graced the occasion.

Karekin II urged the Armenians in the city to help preserve their national identity and values for the prosper of the community.

'' The Armenian monuments should not be the only thing that makes the city remember about our community, '' he said.

It is noteworthy that racing mogul J C Galstaun and realtor tycoon Arathoon Stephen were among present in the gala event, which was attended by 30,000 people.

According to Karekin II, India bears a special significance for the Armenians as it was in Chennai in 1773 the intellectuals of the community scripted the constitution of a liberated Armenia and the first Armenian periodical was published in 1794.

Interestingly, the Holy Nazareth Church on Armenian Street in Kolkata has crossed the milestone of 300 years on the cityscape, heedless to the altering trends of its denizens.

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