Armenia and Armenians in Indian mass media

08.07.2018 • Armenia: Where the church bells toll

Few know that Kolkata once had a large Armenian community that has dwindled over time. It is from the stories told by my Armenian friends in the city that I learnt that their homeland was the first country to adopt Christianity as the state religion in 301 AD. They described visions of Armenia’s churches that became imprinted in my mind. Visions of sprawling, majestic complexes, nestled in the folds of green canyons and hilltops, that have borne testimony to the creative power of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. A grant from Luminous Landscape, a web portal for photography education, took me to the country on a two-week project. Read more :    

23.06.2018 • Armenians, Clive and the Battle of Plassey

The Battle of Plassey was fought on June 23, 1757, exactly 261 years ago. Not many people know that Robert Clive’s victory was eased by support from one very unlikely quarter: the Armenians, a trading community that had fled persecution in Persia and settled in India in large numbers during the Mughal era. On June 23, 1757, the Battle of Plassey led to the unlikely conquest of Bengal by Robert Clive’s army. George Bruce Malleson, in   The Decisive Battles of India  (1883), described Plassey as the most unheroic English victory. It was “Plassey which necessitated,” wrote Malleson, “the conquest and colonisation of the Cape of Good Hope, of the Mauritius, the protectorship over Egypt; Plassey which gave to the sons of her middle-classes the finest field for the development of their talent and industry the world has ever known… the conviction of which underlies the thought of every true Englishman.”  Read...

14.04.2018 • Nurturing little Armenia in the heart of Kolkata

For 197 years, the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy has offered not just education but a sanctuary for children torn by conflict. It was a birthday party of a different kind. Brought together often by conflict and exile and nurtured in a regime of tough love, the dozen alumni and 70 present students of the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy (ACPA) of Kolkata were celebrating 197 years of the institution on April 2. Amid the animated discussions on the crisis in West Asia, Razmik Hakobyan, a 24-year-old Iraqi, an alumnus of the school, said he was dispatched to the ACPA in 2007 for “safety and education,” after a bomb exploded close to his house in Baghdad’s upmarket Kembel Gilani area. Mr. Hakobyan’s father, a retired soldier, decided distant Kolkata was safer.  Read more:

27.12.2017 • Who built Hong Kong? Not who you think…

Many different people have claimed credit over almost 200 years for the creation of the great city of Hong Kong we see today. Some British soldiers and civil servants can be blamed or take credit, as can many of the earliest Parsi investors, assorted sailors, pirates and working women. So too, can a handful of Tanka boatmen and Cantonese contractors — Loo Acqui and Tam Achoy among them. They freely chose to migrate down-river to Hong Kong to make fortunes under British rule, rather than stay under the sway of 1840s Canton. After that came all sorts of odds and sods: Traders, missionaries, Indian doctors and accountants, South East Asian textile and produce traders, European importers of machinery — all have played their part.  Read more:

02.09.2017 • Mystical sound of the duduk

The Armenian Highlands come alive with the sound of the 'duduk', an ancient woodwind instrument whose music is proclaimed by UNESCO as Masterpiece  of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The haunting notes of the duduk resonate across Armenia, a South Caucasian country with snow-cuddled Ararat mountains heaving on its horizon like stony behemoths. The unique flute crafted from apricot wood sounds like a wailing voice, its tone fleshy and pulpy, soulful and evocative. As I travelled across the country of three million — bordered by Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan — I spotted duduk players working their magic outside monasteries, temples, churches and even on the cobbled streets. The duduk is at the heart of Armenia's social life and cultural identity, inextricably woven into the warp and weft of its artistic fabric. No celebration, wedding, funeral or baptism is complete without the notes of this woodwind wonder. Read more:  

01.09.2017 • Wines of Armenia. Let there be wine!

Armenia’s excellent terroir-driven wines are the result of its volcanic-rich soil and diverse climate. This is where wine began, and is now an up-and-coming destination for serious wine lovers, reports Kanika Dhawan after a recent visit. Winegrowing in Armenia dates back to Biblical times. It is stated in the Book of Genesis, that in 1657 (2104 BCE) God’s chosen one, Noah, after disembarking from the Ark which saved him – and all the other creatures – from the great Flood, was tasked with restocking a denuded earth. The Ark came to rest at the top of Mount Ararat, which is now the highest mountain in Eastern Turkey and was a part of Armenia until 1915, when Turkey took it over. There, Noah is said to have planted a vineyard at the foot of the mountain, harvested grapes, fermented them and become inebriated on too much of his own wine.  Read more:

27.08.2017 • Breaking bread! Head to Armenia to satiate all your meat and lavash desires

Succulent shashliks grilled to a gossamer gold, aubergines- and tomato-stuffed Borani (fried chicken) bursting with flavour, baked vegetables saturated with the smell of coals, khorovats (barbecued meats) dripping golden juices, kyuftas (meatballs) that melt in the mouth, brine-ripened cheeses, dolma (stuffed grape leaves) brimming with meaty goodness… A happy embrace of different cultures — Turkish, Iranian, Russian, Arabic — means Armenia is also rich and diverse. Centuries before Turkish or Soviet intrusions, the south Caucasian country of three million people was on a key Silk Road route that led to cross-cultural influences, resulting in a mind-boggling array of grilled meats, flavour-charged dishes, fresh salads and oven-warm flatbreads. Read more:

22.08.2017 • Paper trail: How the world’s first Armenian journal emerged in Madras in 1794

On Madras Day, retracing the origins of ‘Azdarar’ and the merchant community that supported it. Under the shade of frangipani trees in the quiet garden of Chennai’s 245-year-old Armenian Church is a grave decorated with an open book. Engraved on the book in block letters is the word “Azdarar”, which means “The Intelligencer” in Armenian. This was the first Armenian journal in the world, published in Madras in the year 1794, when the merchant community from the mountainous, Eurasian country was thriving in the city. The grave belongs to Reverend Haruthium Shmavonian (1750-1824), who was the editor and founder of   Azdarar , hailed as the Father of Armenian Journalism. Shmavonian was born in Shiraz, a cultural hub in Iran. After the sudden death of his two sons, Shmavonian moved away from the crowded city to study Persian, which he ultimately mastered. His later voyages led him to settle down as a priest in Old Madras,...

05.07.2017 • ‘Strategic miscalculation’ led to exodus of Armenians from India : Ambassador Armen Martirosyan

India’s Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari visited Armenia recently to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Armenians had ancient trade relations with several parts of India and, by the 7th century, a few Armenian settlements had appeared in Kerala, along the Malabar Coast. An Armenian merchant-cum-diplomat, Thomas Cana, is believed to have reached the Malabar Coast in 780, long before Portuguese Vasco da Gama, using the overland route. The Armenian diaspora, having immigrated to India hundreds of years ago, are well woven into the fabric of Indian society. Upon the founding of the Armenian nation in 1991, many Armenian-Indians returned to their homeland. Now there are hardly 100 Armenians in India, mostly in Kolkata, where the Armenian College still functions. Armenia’s Ambassador to India H.E. Mr. Armen Martirosyan, in an interview with India Review & Analysis, talks about these bilateral ties, ancient and modern....

18.06.2017 • Armenian diaspora turns world into global village

YEREVAN: As the melancholic notes of duduk — a pipe instrument integral to Armenian music — caress the air in Vernissage, the country's biggest flea market, a woman in her late 60s waves an exquisite wall hanging made of jute and ceramic, exhorting customers: "Five hundred Armenian drams only!" The French word vernissage means a private showing or preview of an art exhibition. The lines of desperation on the woman's face --- 500 Armenian Drams for that converts to a measly amount of Rs 70 --- hint at the ravages of history, of what went wrong with the country that's the cradle of a rich ancient civilisation. It produces the most exquisite brandy, wines and carpets and is believed to be the resting place of Noah's Ark. Read more:

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