By Anchita Ghosh
Christmas and New Year festivities are over for most, but not in a few houses in the capital. A Lajpat Nagar address — home to the only “pure Armenian” family in the capital — is gearing up to celebrate Christmas on January 6, when Jesus Christ was baptised.
The occupant of the house, Mane Mkrtchyan (27), who made India her home around 10 years ago, says Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity in the year 301.
“We have always celebrated Christmas on January 6. December 25 became popular under Roman influence in the 4th century,” said Mane, who lives in Delhi with her mother, twin sister and a nephew. Her father Senekerim Mkrtchyan, a retired engineer, joins them for six months during winters. This year, her other sister, who lives in Moscow with her family, has also joined them with her two children for Christmas.
Though Mane’s is the only pure Armenian family in the city, there are around 50 Indo-Armenian families in the NCR. Among them is Dr Gayane Movsisyan Sayeed, MD, Cardiologist and president of Armenian Cultural Centre in Delhi.
Dr Gayane says Armenia is the only country to follow Apostolic Church, which celebrates Christmas on January 6.
“Celebrations start from December 31 with some keeping a seven-day fast,” said Dr Gayane. “The day starts with prayers and ends with a community get-together and feasting. Since there is no Armenian church in Delhi, we mostly pray at home,” she says.
“Christmas is all about time with family and home-cooked food,” said Mane, a PhD scholar in Hindi from JNU. She says some of the must-haves on the Christmas table include gaphama — rice and dry fruits, including raisins, steamed inside a pumpkin — lavash, a tandoori-like bread and fish.
Dr Gayane says rice, raisins and fish have a meaning too. “Rice represents the world and raisins symbolise the Christians. Fish is the symbol of Jesus Christ,” says Dr Gayane.
Every year, around this time, the city’s small Armenian community comes together. This time, the gathering was at India Habitat Centre on January 1.
Mane, however, hopes to spread the word on her country’s culture through the Armenian Cultural Centre, founded in 2015 on September 21 — the Armenian Independence Day.