children became members of the faith, during
mass baptismal services..
A clergyman stands before a congregation of believers
and asks a question that links Armenian tradition
to this contemporary gathering at Saint Zoravor
Church in Yerevan.
"What does a godfather ask of his godchild?"
In response the kavors (godfathers) repeat three
times: "Hope, faith, love and baptism."
The ceremony of the Armenian Apostolic church
symbolizes expiation of sins and spiritual rebirth.
On Tuesday (May 6) 40 children of different ages
from the Erebuni community were baptized; 14 at
A two year old, Gayane, looks confused and screams
when the clergyman brings her to a basin of water.
Her mother, Marine Khachatryan, has brought three
children. Gayane's nine-year old brother Patvakan
and eight-year old brother Davit will also join
the believers this day.
"When someone is being baptized, irrespective
of the age he or she becomes a member of our church
by accepting our ideology," says clergyman
Gevorg Gevorgyan and Armen Kalivanjyan were chosen
to be all the children's godfathers. From this
day, their role will be to represent the Church
in the lives of their sanigs (godchildren). The
godfathers are to be spiritual teachers who give
children spiritual food by caring for them, so
that they grow to become honest Christians.
"We deliver that ideology to a child through
the godfather, and based on that the child will
be brought up. Godfather is a proxy of the church,"
says Father Yeghishe.
and relatives joined clergy to see the baptismal
Baptism is divided into two parts - the baptism
itself and the imprint. During the baptism ceremony
a clergyman turns a child towards the east and
submerges him in water three times, saying, "In
the name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit."
Father Yeghishe explains, "It means they
are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity.
Submerging in water three times symbolizes Christ's
burial and resurrection. By coming out of water,
you become a new person getting stronger by Christ's
Fifteen year old Lilit Arakelyan regrets that
she hasn't been baptized before. "I feel
myself a new person, even my faith became stronger
After washing himself with consecrated water,
the Father imprints the children with holy water.
Father Yeghishe says that the imprint is the mark
Christ and holy water symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
"The Father anointed my forehead, ears,
eyes, mouth, palms and knees with the holy water.
Then my back and heart. I know that this is done
so that I serve for good and useful deeds,"
says Lilit's brother, 11-year old Vahe Arakelyan.
Tuesday's event was organized by the political
party "Orinats Yerkir" (Country of Law).
Vice president of the party, Gagik Mkheyan, says
50,000 children have been baptized in over the
past four years through the party's efforts.
Head of the party's Erebuni region Tamara Ishkhanyan
says this year 120 have been baptized in their
community and 40 are waiting.
Each person baptized is given a one-gram gold
"Our purpose is to prevent propagation of
sects," Ishkhanyan, a teacher, says. "By
being baptized they already start getting an idea
of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Even in schools
there are sectarian teachers who lead children
ceremony includes baptism and imprint.
At the end of baptism ceremony the Father blesses
a thick thread and attaches a consecrated cross
which the godfather puts over the child's neck.
"The thick thread is made of white and red
threads," Father Yeghishe says. " It
symbolizes Christ's blood. When he was pierced
on cross, first blood and then white liquid was
pouring off him."
After the ceremony, the yard of the Saint Zoravor
Church is full of children's hue-and-cry. Everybody's
faces anointed with holy water are shining. A
mother of two children, Lusine Mkhitaryan, is
also among those having been baptized. "Though
it is a little late, I took the opportunity and
was baptized with my children. It seems like I
have been spiritually cleared."
The Father reminds those who were baptized that
they must not wash themselves and take bath for
three days, as they are anointed with holy water.
On the third day only a clergyman can wash with
consecrated water places anointed with holy water.
"The water with which the holy water was
washed out must be poured out in a clean place.
Being baptized people expiate their sins, to be
born again. And the imprint makes their souls
stronger, gives them strength to confront all
difficulties of life," Father Yeghishe says.