Monday, February, the first day of Lent
Each year the liturgical calendar lists many occasions for observing Paregentan (good living). One such occasion is Poun Paregentan (Main or Prime Good Living). The name rings for all people with a joyful sound. It is the signal for the start of the abstinence. It serves as a joyous celebration as a counter-balance to the burdensome weeks of abstinence (lent). It is a toast for long life, health and success. It is a heartfelt expression of an attitude toward loved ones, disclosed in gatherings and around bountiful tables.
This year paregentan is marked on 22 February 2009
The Peace Service (Khaghaghagan), the Rest Service (Hanksdyan), and the Sunrise Service (Arevakal) are performed more often during Lent than at other times of the year. In popular terms Peace and Rest services are combined and called Hsgoum.
Peace Service, performed in the late evening, contains prayers for peace at the end of the day. Rest Service, which comes just before retiring for the night, asks God's continuing care through the night. Sunrise Service, performed first thing in the morning, reminds us that God is the giver of the light of the morning and the light of salvation.
The Great Lent (Medz Bahq) is 48 days from the day that followes Poun Paregentan until the morning before the Easter (this year it starts from 23 February 2009 until the morning of 12 April 2009). The main part of the Lent is between Poun Paregentan and Palm Sunday "Dzaghgazart" (6 weeks), followed by the Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Holy Easter (total 7 weeks).
What is the purpose of Medz Bahq?
A time designated by Christian churches as a unique period for self examination, a search for spiritual values and for spiritual renewal. By voluntarily depriving ourselves from material pleasures, we make a conscious effort to dwell on our spiritual values.
What are the customary dietary rules when observing Medz Bahq?
Most people who observe Medz Bahq, give up eating all animal products (meats from all sources, butter, milk, eggs, cheese, etc.) Some people choose to observe Medz Bahq throughout the 40 days; others do it only on Wednesdays and Fridays; others may give up specific things like desserts or drinks; or others may choose whatever they feel is a material pleasure for them.
Note that observing the dietary restrictions without accompanying kind deeds, renders the observation of Medz Bahq useless.
The Meaning of Lent:"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry." (Matthew 4:12.)
This is the Biblical basis of the period called Lent, given to us to prepare for the Feast of Feasts, the Resurrection. Just as we need time to prepare for any great event in life, we need time to make ourselves ready to participate in the blessed and wondrous event commemorated by Easter.
Lent gives us the opportunity to:
Renew our commitment to God
Reflect on our lives and let them be directed by God
Respond to Jesus' call for love and mercy toward all of God's children
Michink or median day of Lent is the 24th day of Lent and it occurs on the Wednesday of the fourth week. Although it does not have any specific religious significance, this mid-point day has been traditionally marked as a special day, an occasion for celebration. It is often marked with fellowship and friendship while sharing a table of Lenten foods.
This year the median day of Lent (Michink) will be on 18 March 2009.
Armenians around the world celebrate the Easter Sunday. They exchange the Easter greeting: Krisdos haryav ee merelotz and Orhnyal eh harootiunun Krisdosee. They share with relative, friends and community members a joyous Easter feast, often including lamb and colored eggs (symbols of new life).
On the Monday after Easter, Armenian families in many parts of the world visit the graves of their loved ones.
Easter Sunday is followed by a period of 40 days, during which time there are no saints' days or fasting days. This period is dedicated to the 40 days Christ spent on earth after His Resurrection. The end of this period is called Ascension Day, commemorating Christ's entry into heaven.
Fifty days after Easter is Pentecost, on which day the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and gave them the power to preach in various languages. This usually is marked as the birthday of the Church.
Renaissance…, so far Administrative: Karabakh authorities decide to “revitalize” Shushi
By Naira Hayrumyan
ArmeniaNow Karabakh reporter
Published: 20 February, 2009
Starting from autumn 2008, two buildings not far from “Kanach Zham” church have been reconstructed, and it is into these buildings that the Supreme and Appeals Courts will move, according to preliminary data. The facilities for the state cadastre committee, the ombudsman’s office and the Ministry of Culture are still in the mapping-out process. About 40 people work at these institutions.
The government’s decision is conditioned by the fact that this is the only way to breathe a new life into the town that had up to 45,000 residents at the beginning of the 20th century, more than half of the population being Armenians. At the end of 19th – the beginning of 20th century 22 newspapers were published in Shushi, there were 7 churches, and a theater. As a result of the massacres of Armenians at the hands of Turkish-Tatar forces in March 1920, the greatest part of the cultural heritage of Shushi vanished (20,000 Armenians were killed and about 700 buildings were destroyed).
As a result of the Armenian-Azeri war in 1991-1994 the town was almost completely destroyed. Now the greatest part of the town consists of half-destroyed houses of the 18th-19th centuries that are tumbling down because of the wind, rains, and the human factor. Not more than 3,000 people live in Shushi now.
Karabakh authorities linked the rebirth of the city with the potential of the Diaspora, considering that the state budget of Karabakh cannot afford it, although the total sum necessary for revitalizing the town was not even calculated. Every year small amounts were allocated to “maintain” the town; the largest sum – about 400 million drams ($1.3 million) – was allocated in 2008. Within the 15 post-war years the road to the Cathedral of St. Savior (Kazanchetsots) was renovated, gas was supplied and the road and the entrance to the town were renovated.
In the autumn of 2008 Levon Hayrapetyan, a patron famous in Karabakh, announced about his “patronage” in the course of Shushi’s rebirth. He promised that in a few years 50,000 people would live in the town. But, perhaps because of the world economic crisis, the projects have not started yet. Authorities say that a master plan of the town is being designed, and the reconstruction will be carried out according to it.
Particular hopes were connected with “The Shushi Revival” Fund that was established by the Mayor of Yerevan Ervand Zakharyan in 2006. The Fund had announced magnificent projects, however, little has been done so far. In January 2008 the Fund organized a teleton “Yerevan-Shushi-Bethlehem,” during which an announcement was made about donating $5.7 million for the town’s rebirth. A decision was made to use the money for the restoration of the water supply pipe, but the project has not started until now. The representative of the Fund in Karabakh Artur Hambardzumyan informed that the projects that were supposed to be implemented in 2008 were postponed “for a number of reasons.” The construction of the water supply pipe will start in the spring of this year, and the project is ready, he said.
During one of the sessions of Karabakh government Prime Minister Ara Harutyunyan expressed his dissatisfaction in relation to the work of the fund. “The ‘Shushi Rebirth’ Fund had taken up the reconstruction of a number of buildings, where the state institutions were to be moved. However, nothing has been done so far, and we will have to allocate the means from the state budget,” Harutyunyan said.
At the beginning of February Zakharyan visited Shushi, he also met with the President of Nagorno Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan. As it turned out, the implementation of a number of projects, the reconstruction of Adamyan Street in particular, had been postponed until the master plan of the city would be designed. The Fund has also designed a project of a cable-car road, which may facilitate the development of tourism.
The money was used to renovate the roofs of the houses on Proshyan Street, an apartment was bought for the family of a soldier who died in the war, the reconstruction of Shushi picture gallery was continued, roads were repaired, and the water supply was partly reconstructed.
Meanwhile, apparently in expectation of a miracle, real estate prices in Shushi doubled in 2008. The price for a square meter went up to $200 (and $817 in Stepanakert); a decade ago the price in Shushi was about $8.
“I have been living in Shushi for 8 years now. My husband was able to get a job here and an apartment. We have three children, and in Stepanakert we used to live with my husband’s parents in a small apartment,” 38-year-old Zoya Arakelyan says, “We moved to Shushi. We literally started from scratch, because the apartment was half-ruined, we had to lay the sewage and water pipes ourselves. But at that time this was the only way out. Then my husband had to quit the job, and now he works in Stepanakert. I was never able to find a job. There are no enterprises and organizations here – only state institutions.”
Now residential buildings in Shushi are being renovated as well. 60 apartments were provided for the officers of the Defense Army in 2008. The housing issue in Shushi is critical despite its small population. The thing is that after 1995, when the privatization of the housing fund was announced, the apartments in Shushi were bought or simply privatized by the people who do not reside in Shushi.