Armenian Festival Showcases Traditions

Mariam Grigoryan

Armenians shared their rich cultural traditions during the seventh annual two-day Armenian festival held in the Civic Auditorium May 3 and 4.

The festival celebrated the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS).
The program began with opening remarks, a flag ceremony and the Armenian national anthem. The Aroma of traditional Armenian food filled the bottom floor of the two-story auditorium. Festive music played as children, parents, participants and volunteers strolled through the colorful hall.

One of the many volunteers who brought in different aspects of the culture was the owner of a galley, Tough of Art, who decorated one of the corners as a historical Armenian kitchen as a background for the pictures. The scene depicted the process of baking bread.

“This event introduces our heritage to younger generations, keeps us together and serves as a remembrance,” said Zabel Kassarsian, one of the owners of the gallery.

Guests sauntered around admiring the different scenes set up behind red velvet ropes. One was of a family room, complete with a sofa, colorful rug and a heater.

Dirouhi Kupelian, a member of the ARS, described how “families used to sit on the floor around the heater, as it was the only place to keep warm during winter.”

Kupelian, who has been involved in this event for the last two years, was accompanied by Marie Toutalian, a teacher from the Saturday school Armenian Sister’s Academy, whose 120 students, ages 4 to 14, sang at the introduction of the program.
On the second floor of the auditorium, the entertainment continued with several stage events, such as traditional dances and costume shows.

One of the most popular events was a traditional Armenian wedding.

The staged wedding had everything from the bride and groom in traditional garb, followed by the band. The ensemble made its way to the lower level, circling the cheering audience.

Tables were set up in the middle of the auditorium and booths surrounded the hall.
On the top floor was a wide variety of jewelry, handbags, accessories and a few tables were full of traditional foods.

“As time goes by it gets crazier here, more music, more dancing,” said Emma Garbedian, a member of the festival committee. “The event was very successful because it promotes more sponsors, more volunteers.”

The proceeds of the entrance fee and donations will go to the poor and anyone in need, not only Armenians, according to Siroun Jaeourian, member of the ARS.