Saying Farewell To The City

Saying Farewell To The City

The Hindu
April 19, 2004

WITH THE departure of Michael Stephanian, or Stephen, if you wish, the
Armenian Church in George Town will be without an Armenian caretaker
for the first time since it was consecrated in 1772. A local caretaker,
Alexander, succeeds Michael who goes to Calcutta on a significant
promotion after seven years in Madras where he had succeeded that
legend, George Gregorian, who put in 33 years in making the church
the cleanest place in the city.

Michael moves to Calcutta to take charge of the Armenian College
(school) there, one of the leading educational institutions in the
city when it was home to a few thousand Armenians, almost all of whom
have migrated to Australia or parts westwards since the 1970s. The few
hundred Armenians left in Calcutta keep service going in the city’s
three churches of the Armenian Orthodoxy and the one in Chandernagar,
service being held in each by turn on Sundays. These numbers, have,
however, not been enough to sustain the school, which in its heyday –
and when the Armenian Club was as lively – produced some of the best
rugby teams in India.

There has, in the last few years, been an attempt to revive the school
by bringing in from strife-riven Armenia and Iran, Armenian children
who have lost at least one parent. To the dozen or so Armenians with
Indian connections there have now been added about 100 boys and 40
girls from Armenia and Iraq. Michael hopes that, in the next year or
so, he can get that strength up to 300, with about 50 more children
from Armenia and 100 from war-torn Iraq where over 25,000 Armenians
live. These children in the 6-16 age group will be trained to take
the ICSE exam, but their workload will always be increased by three
subjects: the Armenian language, history and faith.

Michael, while in Madras, has done a splendid job in keeping the
Armenian Church alive by organising the occasional service in it. He
has also ensured that the Armenian Cemetery on the Island and the
Armenian tombs and other relics in and around the city have been cared
for. He may not have always been successful in preserving the symbols
of Armenian heritage in the city, but he was always trying. I’m sure
he’ll be trying even harder to bring the Armenian College back to
its old glory. This column wishes him all the best.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS