New and Old Keghi Find Connections in Detroit


 

By Mitch Kehetian

DETROIT — In honoring their ancestry to  historic Keghi in Turkish-occupied western Armenia, Detroit Armenians have taken another  giant step to strengthen linkage to Nor Keghi  in the Republic of Armenia.

More then 350 area Armenians joined hands October 25 at St.  John Armenian Church Cultural Hall  to celebrate Kef Time Keghi II while feasting on traditional Keghetzi  pagharch —moved by continuous dance music provided by  22  Armenian musicians who donated their talents to support the local Nor Keghi Association mission launched last year.

Richard Norsigian, chair of the association’s steering committee, drew applause when he told the celebrants  ”our fellow Hyes of present-day Armenia need our support to confront a challenging future. We thank you and members of our four churches for joining hands in a noble cause.  We will succeed.”

He also announced the committee will hold an open meeting on Jan. 18 at  St. Sarkis Armenian Church, Norsigian said the committee plans to outline its  goal to renovate some of Nor Keghi’s public schools  now in need of  health and structural improvements.”

He emphasized “we welcome your help in supporting our mission, especially as our people throughout the world community in 2015 join together to seek justice for  our people  massacred during the Turkish genocide of 1915 killing more than 1.5 million fellow Armenians. And the Turkish government still denies it was genocide, even after 100 years.”

Highlights of the “pagharch celebration” included the lighting of candles on a huge decorated Armenian tri-color sheet cake  to honor the names and memory of villages in old Keghi district. Nor Keghi  was formerly known as Pazmavan until 1962 when it was renamed by the then Soviet  Armenian government.

The cake lighting ceremony headed by community activist Marty Shoushanian then expanded to include other districts in western Armenia, including Sepastia, Erzeroum, Van, Bitlis, Moush and Kharpet.

“We all share a rich heritage,” he stressed.

As the steaming Keghetzi pagharches were brought into the dining hall as “tonight’s guests” to dance music, applauding Detroit Hyes were reminded of William Saroyan’s stirring words: “Go ahead, destroy Armenia, burn their churches and homes but see whenever two Armenians get together they will sing and dance again . . .”