January 30, 2010

Feast of Saint Sarkis (Sargis)

Today is the Feast of St. Sarkis (or Sargis) the Captain, Patron of Love and Youth

By the order of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the Feast of St. Sarkis the Captain and his soldiers-companions is proclaimed day of blessing of the youth.
Captain St. Sarkis is one of the most beloved saints among the Armenian nation. Together with his 14 soldiers-companions he was martyred for the sake of Christian faith.

St. Sarkis, Patron of Youth and love

In Armenia it is accepted to celebrate the Feast of St. Sarkis not only according to church rites and prayer, but also according to various folk traditions. St. Sarkis the Captain is the patron of youth. Many miracles happen thanks to his intercession. On the day of the feast young people pray the saint asking him to make their prayers audible to God. St. Sarkis is the realizer of the love longings.

Legend about Saint Sarkis

There are many legends about St. Sarkis and one of them is the following.
Poor bard Gharib loved Shah-Sanam who was the daughter of a very rich man. Shah-Sanam loved him, too, but because the bard was poor, the Shah-Sanam’s father was against their marriage as he wished to marry his daughter to a rich man. Bard Gharib decided to go to foreign countries to earn money and to accumulate wealth. But before leaving for foreign countries bard Gharib asked Shah-Sanam to promise to wait for him for seven years providing that if he were late even for one day the young woman might marry according to her father’s will.
That seven-year-period was a very difficult period for bard Gharib. He couldn’t see his beloved, had no news of her, and nevertheless, he wasn’t disappointed and waited for the time when they would meet, make up family and live together all their life.
Working day and night for seven years bard Gharib accumulated wealth and started his way back to the motherland. However, on his way back he faced many difficulties and hardships. It seemed to him that he wouldn’t be able to reach his beloved. So, he prayed with honest heart and righteous mind for the help of St. Sarkis asking.
Listening the prayer of the bard St. Sarkis immediately appeared sitting on his white horse, seated him on the back of the horse (see the photo above) and in one moment brought him to Shah-Sanam. Seeing the bard’s strong will, their sincere and deep love and devotion, Shah-Sanam’s father blessed their union.


On the eve of the feast, in the evening, young people eat salty cookies and don't drink water. The person who appeares in their dream and offers them water will be their future bride or groom.

Salty cookies for the Feast of Saint Sarkis

Also, on the night preceding the feast of St. Sarkis the faithful people place a tray full of flour before the door believing that while passing near their door at dawn St. Sarkis will leave the footprint of his horse on the flour symbolizing the fulfillment of their dreams.

People in love present each other cards, flowers or sweets on the occasion of the feast.On the day of the feast a Divine Liturgy is celebrated in all churches named after St. Sarkis. Following the Liturgy a special ceremony of blessing of young people will be offered.

For more information about Saint Sargis & Saint Sargis Feast see here.

January 28, 2010

January 28 is the Armed Forces' (or Army) Day of the Republic of Armenia.

Congratulations to all Armenian soldiers! We wish you peaceful skies all the time.

Video: The Armenian Army Military Parade

Photos: Military Parade Dedicated to the 15th Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Armenia



Photos: Military Parade Dedicated to the 15th Anniversary of Shoushi Liberation

January 18, 2010

Addition to my "Duduk as the proud of Armenia" Article

In addition to the article posted some days before (you can find it below or here) I would like to show you this video about Armenian duduk made by UESCO.

You may also be interested in this video where Pedro Eustache (Venezuelan musician)explains why he likes the duduk song and plays Armenian duduk at a concert in Jerusalem, 25-27 July, 2007.

January 15, 2010

Duduk as the proud of Armenia

One of my friends asked me about "duduk" or "balaban", so, I decided to prepare an article for those of you who don't know much about this magical Armenian instrument yet.

History of Duduk

The Duduk is one of the oldest double reed instruments in the world. It's origins can be traced back to the times of the Armenian king Tigran the Great (95–55 BC). The instrument is depicted in numerous Armenian manuscripts of the Middle Ages. The name of the instrument is pronounced "doodook" in Armenian.

Duduk is one of the unique instruments that has Armenian origin. Because of its uniqueness, throughout the centuries, the duduk has traveled to many neighboring countries and has undergone a few changes in each of them, such as the specific tuning and the number of holes, etc. Now variants of duduk can be found in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Persia, and even as far away as the Balkans.

The duduk now is very popular in Europe, Asia and Ameriaca. Before I continute just enjoy this breathtaking performance by Pedro Eustache (Venezuelan musician) (Duduk), Samvel Yervinyan (Armenian) (Violin), & Armen Movsessian (Armenian) (Violin) at Yanni live concert.

Besides the changes in construction, the name has also been changed in some countries. The Armenian word "duduk" changed to "duduki" (in Georgia), it is also referred to as "mey" (in Turkey) and "balaban" (in Azerbaijan and in parts of Central Asia).

While other countries may use the wood from other fruit and/or nut trees when making their instruments, in Armenia, the best wood for making duduks has been found to be from the apricot tree (apricot is "Prunus armeniaca" in Latin which means "Armenian plum").

It is known as the best material for duduk for it's unique ability to resonate a sound that is unique to the Armenian duduk. All of the other variations of the instrument found in other countries have a very reed-like, strongly nasal sound, whereas the Armenian duduk has been specifically developed to produce a warm, soft tone which is closer to a voice than to a reed. It should be noted that in order to further accentuate these qualities, a particular technique of reed making has evolved, as well.

Recent appearances of the duduk in various movies and TV soundtracks ("The Last Temptation of Christ", "The Crow", "Zena, Warrior Princess", etc...) has accentuated its evocative and soulful side.

It may surprise some to find that it is also quite capable of a wide range of melodies, including rhythmic dance tunes. May be because of this wide range of expression, combined with the depth and power of it's sound, that the duduk has truly become a part of everyday life in Armenia. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that no wedding, festive occasion or family gathering would be complete without duduk music.

It may also surprise you when you know that Armenians use duduk for both funeral and wedding ceremonies.

Duduk-the instrument

Originally the duduk is made from two pieces: a large double reed made of reed/cane and a body made of wood. This is the form that is still in use today.

The reed, called "Ramish" in Armenian (pronounced as "rah-meesh"), is basically a tube made of reed/cane that has been flattened on one end (and left cylindrical at the other), whose shape closely resembles a duck's bill. It can be anywhere from 3" to 4.5" long, and 3/4" to 1 1/4" wide depending on the maker and the key of duduk it corresponds to. The fact that the opposite sides of the tube come together, and thus produces the sound, makes this a double reed. Because the reed expands as it is played, a small bridle is used to regulate the aperture of the reed. Connected to this bridle is a small cap that is used to keep the reed closed when it is not being played.

The Armenian duduk itself is a cylindrical tube made of apricot wood, and as the photo shows, it has eight playable finger holes on one side of the instrument (#2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 in the photo), with a single thumb hole on the back for the top hand (#3 in the photo). There is a tenth hole (#11 in the photo) that is needed for tuning, and depending on the maker it can be located on the top or on the bottom of the instrument (Master Karlen, "MKS", and Master Souren, "SAM", put their holes on the bottom, while Master Ruben, "RR", puts his on the top). While you hardly use this tenth hole, the benefit to having the hole on the bottom is that you will be able to play that note either by pulling the instrument to your stomach (with all of the holes closed) if you are standing, or by using your knee if you are sitting.

The Armenian duduk is a deceptively simple instrument. It's range is primarily a single octave, with a couple of notes above and below at either end. It is untempered and diatonic, and it is available in a range of keys (depending on the maker). What makes the instrument so difficult is that all of the chromatic intervals are made by half-holing each note, you do not use any "forked-tuning" when playing the duduk. To make this easier, however, the holes have been made relatively large compared to the overall size of the instrument. This allows for more "play" between the notes, and it contributes to the rich, full sound of the instrument. Keep in mind that this also means that you have to blow harder to get that sound, as well as work harder in order to keep the notes in tune...something that is very difficult in the beginning, but well worth it in the end!

Famous Duduk Players
As Duduk is a national Armenian instrument the best Duduk players are Armenains. One the best duduk players is Jivan Gasparyan.

The story of Jivan Gasparyan's life is fantastic, as he managed to turn from an orphanage boy to the best duduk player in the world and to the first Armenian who was nominated for GRAMMY Award.

He is also "Golden Globe" and "Womex Lifetime Achievement Award" winner.

He wrote soundtracks for such world known films as "The Last Temptation of the Christ", "Gladiator", "Calendar", "Doctor Givago" and many others.

Jivan Gasparyan also cooperated with Lionel Richie, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Boris Grebenshchikov, Erkan Ogur and other famous performers.


Vladimir Presnyakov & Jivan Gasparian

Erkan O─čur & Djivan Gasparyan - "Mayrig" ("Mother")

Find out more at: http://www.gasparyanjivan.com/

Gevorg Dabaghyan is also known as one of the best Duduk players in the world.

The professionals say, though, the technique for playing the duduk may take years to perfect, when you finally get there, you will have attained a level of direct control and expressiveness that no other instrument can give you, which is probably what drew you to the duduk in the first place!


Find out more at: http://www.dabaghyan.com/

How to keep Duduk

It was very interesting what a simple and brilliant method Armenians use to keep the duduk.

The reeds should be allowed to dry out, and they should be left out in the open after they have been played. Duduk players often store them in sun-glasses cases with holes (3/8") drilled in them for ventilation. If they are stored moist in a closed container, they will soon mildew and get moldy. Remember to always loosen the bridle and keep the closing cap on when they are not being played.
The Armenian Duduk itself only needs to be lightly oiled on the outside every so often. You do not ever want to put oil inside the duduk, as this will change it's sound. For this you can use the method that has been used for hundreds of years. To do this you need a hammer, 3 or 4 walnuts , and a nice piece of cloth. Put the walnuts in the cloth , wrap the cloth tight, start hitting the walnuts gently until you see the oil of the walnuts spreading on the cloth.
Using the cloth, gently apply the oily cloth on the duduk. You can use this cloth several times until the oil on the cloth starts to dry out. Walnut contains natural minerals, vitamins, and oil , this will preserve your instrument for many years. you can also use almond oil, or any other neutral, non-vegetable based oil (vegetable oil will go rancid on you).

You can store your duduk many different ways , one thing you need to remember is not to let your duduk under the sun or expose your duduk to heat, moisture, or liquids. You can store the duduks in a closed compartment, such as gun cases, brief cases, or something that has cushion that will prevent the duduk from damaging when transporting the duduk. Or you can use soft cloth to wrap the duduk.

Here you can watch how Master Karen makes duduks.

Duduk is the proud of Armenia.

January 5, 2010

How Armenians celebrate the Christmas

The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ on January 6.

According to the Armenian Apostolic Church the week preceding the Feast, December 30-January 5, is fasting period and people eat food of exceptionally vegetable origin.

The period of fast comes to end in the evening of January 5 when a candlelight Divine Liturgy is celebrated and the great tiding of Jesus’ birth is proclaimed to the faithful. People greet each other saying, "Qristos tsnav yev haytnetsav. Mez yev dzez mets avetis", which means “Christ is Born and Revealed! Blessed is the Revelation of Christ.”

What is Candlelight Divine Liturgy?

It is interesting that the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ starts on the evening of January 5 as the church day changes at 17:00 p.m., after the evening service. So the celebration of the feast starts in the evening of January 5 and is continued on January 6.

In the evening of January 5 candlelight Divine Liturgy is celebrated in all Armenian churches.

In the evening of that day people take to their homes candles lit in the church symbolizing the divine light and the blessing of the Church. Lighting candles symbolizes also the light of Bethlehem star leading the magi from the east to the Baby Jesus.

Jaunury 5, 2010, People taking candles from Saint Trinity Church in Yerevan to their homes

After lighting the candles at home (brought from the church) the second part of the Feast begins.

After 18:00 Armenians cook traditional meals for this day. The essential parts of today's table are "Chamichov plav", "Dzuk" and Armenian wine.

Chamichov plav is rice with dried fruites. Armenians usually add dried dark grapes to rice and 12 dried fruites (dried plumes on the photo). 12 dried fruites symbolize the 12 apostles and the rice symbolizes the people.

Dzuk is "fish" in Armenian. Usually it's one of the most famous Armenian fishes-ishkhan.

Wine also has an important meaning. The Armenian red wine is especially popular this day. It symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ.

Jaunury 5, 2010, Traditional meals after Candlelight Divine Liturgy

In addition to these, there are fruites-Armenian grapes, pomegrante and dried fruites.

On January 6, following the Divine Liturgy, the Armenian Church also offers a special Blessing of the Waters Service to celebrate the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan. The wonder-working water blessed by means of cross and Holy Chrism is distributed to the faithful for spiritual and bodily healing.

January 6, 2010, The Catholicos of All Armenians, Garegin B, blesses the water at the Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin, Armenia

January 7, as well as all the days following the major church feasts are memorial days (or days of Remembrance of the dead). On January 7 (and all memorial days) a special Repose of Souls Service is offered in memory of the dead after which people go the graveyards to pay visit to their relatives’ tombs.
The ceremonies related to the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ are concluded on January 13, the Feast of Naming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

January 1, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I'm wishing you all these things, this year and always!

Merry Christmas and happy New Year.