By Anna Pinedjian
This past weekend, on Saturday, May 2, 2009, the Armenian Relief Society of Western Region celebrated its 8th annual festival. The Armenian cultural traditions came to life at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. It was a momentous event made all the more exciting due to the fact that it was the ARS’s 99th anniversary.
The festival’s program was emceed by Arshalous Darpinian, a new anchor for Horizon TV.
After warm welcoming remarks, which were received appreciatively, she presented the guests. There were Armenian clergymen; Archbishop Moushegh Mardirosian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Church; Komidas Torosyan, the parish priest of St. Mary’s Armenian Church in Glendale; Krikor Hovanessian, Consul General of Armenia; Harout Sassounian, President of the Lincy Foundation; Vicky Marashlian, Central Chair of ARS; Rose Bedrossian, ARS member; Alice Navasargian, the generous sponsor of the festival; Dr. Armine Hacopian, member of the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees; Nairi Nahabedian, member of the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education; Steve Artinian, Regional Executive Committee Chair of Homenetmen; Hovan Tashjian, representing the ARF Central Committee; Vahe Bozoyan, Chair of the Regional Aharonian Executive Committee; other representatives of Hamazkayin Regional Executive Board; many member of ARS’s chapters; and other community members.
The flag ceremony was conducted by the La Crescenta Shant and Burbank Sipan Homenetmen Chapters’ Scouts, who escorted the flags of the United States, Armenia, Artsakh, California and Homenetmen. The Armenian and ARS anthems followed, performed by ARS Saturday School students. Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirosian was then invited to offer his blessings and remarks.
“Today, the 8th Annual Festival is truly underlying the mission of ARS that not only strives to carry out humanitarian projects in Armenia and the diaspora, but the 99-year-old organization has also played a crucial role in preserving the ancient cultural traditions that have been inextricably linked to the Armenian identity for years. As His Holiness Aram I Gatholicos of the Great House of Cilicia proclaimed, this year is the Armenian Youth year. The goal is to teach them the rich heritage of Armenian culture to preserve its values.” He then especially thanked Mrs. Alice Navasargian for her generous contribution to the festival.
As the 8th Annual Festival Chair, Christine Hovnanian, after reflecting on the importance of this event, emphasized the history of ARS. It was founded in 1910 to provide humanitarian aid to all Armenians throughout the world. This event provided an opportunity to bring the community together under the single objective of celebrating the legacy of the Armenian people.
ARS Western Region Chair, Rima Boghosian, conveyed a heartfelt message on behalf of all ARS members. She pointed out the important help that these social services have given to the community abroad. This festival is unique, due to the immense voluntary contributions of many members of the community. She then thanked all sponsors and presented Mrs. Alice Navasargian with the gift of a handmade Armenian tapestry, in appreciation for her generous contribution to the festival.
The festival featured a variety of musical selections and dance performances. There were also many Armenian booths and displays that exhibited traditional costumes, rugs, jewelry, fine art, Armenian traditional food, and Armenian language books. Then, of course, as one entered the dining hall, there was an abundance of delicious Armenian food—kufte, kebab, dolma, boereg, and various kinds of baklavas. While the visitors ate, they were entertained with either traditional Armenian music being played or with forms of traditional dance. There were many dance groups, such as Karavan, Anoush, Alex, Lilia, Lory of the Hamazkayin Pasadena Chapter, Ani, and Davigh. Each of these groups performed a graceful dance with the traditional costumes.
A traditional Armenian wedding was staged by Saro Asadourian, along with traditional costumed dancers, which was one of the major attractions of the festival. Famous Armenian singers sang cultural songs brought from the past, with voices that touched the audience.
Each and every one of these groups donated their time and skills to the festival. The organizers of this event were deeply appreciative of everyone’s efforts. They all came together and made a great festival. The participants enjoyed the festival atmosphere and left the hall with unforgettable memories. The closing of the festival was announced at 11 p.m. by Rima Boghosian, the Chair of the Western Regional ARS.