YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A pilgrimage to the gravesite of the great Armenian military commander Karekin Njdeh was organized on June 17 upon the initiative of the "Nakhijevan" Compatriotic Union. The site has been situated in the yard of the St. Spitakavor Church–village of Gladzor–Vayots Dzor region–since May 8–1987.
In August 1983–through the efforts of a group of intellectuals (Varag Arakelian–Gurgen Aghamalian–Artsakh Buniatian–and Zhora Barseghian) the ashes of the military commander were secretly removed from the Vladimir cemetery and transferred to Yerevan by Pavel Ananian–the husband of Njdeh’s granddaughter Gohar Trdatian. Njdeh’s ashes had been hidden with different individuals until 1987. In May 1987–again secretly–the remains were reburried in the yard of the St. Spitakavor Church. The group has gone on pilgrimages to the gravesite ever since.
There has been a progressively growing number of pilgrims since the beginning of the Karabakh movement. Many organizations joined in the pilgrimages. Catholicos of All Armenia’s Vazgen I and the then Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia–now Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin I visited Njdeh’s grave in 1989.
President of the "Nakhijevan" Compatriotic Union Rafael Hambartsumian said this year’s pilgrimage will involve a lot of people. The ceremony was opened by the spiritual pastor of Berdzor Archbishop Atanas Movsissian with a prayer for the dead. Speeches were delivered by doctor Artsakh Buniatian–who published a book on how the remains of Njdeh were brought to Armenia–Karekin Mkhitarian–Njdeh’s relatives Gohar Trdatian (granddaughter)–Vazgen Haroutiunian (brother’s granddaughter) and Armen Babayan (sister’s gran’son)–who were at the gravesite of their great relative for the first time.
From now on the grave of Njdeh belongs to the Armenian people and the state–the speakers said–adding that they considered their mission to be completed. They urged the government to give an organized character to the pilgrimages.
Attending the ceremony was leader of the Self-Determination Union Paruyr Hairikian–officials of the Kashatagh administration.