A few months ago something compelled my family to decide that this year for the first time ever we were going to celebrate Diaruntarch (one of the daghavars of the Armenian Church) or Terendez as it's referred to in Armenia. I'm willing to bet that the average person would assume this wouldn't be a big deal and we would just gather, light a fire and jump over it. WRONG! In the case of my family we begin with someone coming up with the idea and vocalizing it. Next, everyone mobilizes and tasks are assigned via e-mail. My aunt who is a former teacher of Armenian language and Armenian history was assigned the task of researching foods associated with the holiday. My cousin who is also an educator was given the assignment to research Diaruntarach so that she could further enlighten the rest of the family about the origin, symbolism and traditions of the holiday. Another cousin took on the role of hosting the event and decided her backyard would stage the event (so I'm assuming her husband had to figure out the logistics of how to make fire...ha ha... some things never change men are always in charge of making fire).
On the Sunday before Diaruntarach I had gone to church at St. Garabed in Hollywood. That day the sermon strayed from the usual biblical story and moral message and instead the priest read the Catholicos' message about 2009 being "The Year of the Youth". It was a very interesting message and if anyone is interested in reading it in Armenian or English you can find it on the prelacy website www.westernprelacy.org
(under the News tab in 2009 Press Releases at the very top) Right before reading this message the priest announced that on Friday the church would be observing Diaruntarach and the community was invited to come and gather around the fire that would be lit in the parking lot adjacent to the church and "joghovurtagan" songs would be song and then the brave were invited to leap over the fire. Can you guess what happened the very next morning? I sent out an email to every member of my family with an e-mail address to see who wanted to accompany me on Friday night to church for "research purposes". Three of my cousins bit!
So, on Friday, February 13th we arrived at Soorp Garabed church to find a small group gathered in the parking lot around the fire (I'm assuming the group would have been larger had it not been raining on and off) singing songs. It was so nice to see members of our community gathered together singing. I truly believe a people that sings together....stays together HA HA! After we left Hollywood we cruised by the Glendale church (yes, we were Diaruntarach groupies) and though the crowd there was larger and the scouts were involved the festivities hadn't begun yet and we didn't stick around. We had seen enough in Hollywood and learned what we set out to learn.
The next day my family gathered around a similar fire in my cousin's backyard. My cousin the teacher gathered all the children around her and the attention of the adults and she told the story of Diaruntarach. Next my aunt the former teacher explained the significance of Diaruntarach halva (which my eldest aunt had taken on the responsibility of making) Next some songs were song, a few shoorchbars were danced and young and old alike were invited to leap over the fire.
The reason I'm blogging about Diaruntarach is because as a diasporan Armenian I found it interesting that my family all of a sudden decided to note this holiday and it just so happened that for the first time I learned that our churches also have events for the holiday. Was it just all one big coincidence? Being that this was the year of the youth the timing could not have been more perfect, we were able to get the younger members of our family excited about a new event which is tied to our church. Where had Diaruntarch been all these years?
By the way that sporty kid in the picture jumping over the fire is my Godson!