Armenians in Bangladesh

There was a fairly large Armenian colony in Dhaka during the early part of the 18th century, most of whom were engaged in the jute trade (an affordable woven vegetable fiber second only to cotton). Prominent Armenian jute merchants had their own companies, like Messrs Sarkies & Sons, Messrs David & Co., etc. Gradually the jute business was monopolised by the more powerful and better organised British firms. The early Armenian settlers built a small chapel in the midst of their community graveyard. By the end of the 18th century the Armenian community had grown considerably and the chapel was found inadequate for the needs of the community.

So the chapel was replaced by the Holy Resurrection Church with major donations by Agah Catchick Minas who donated the land and Michael Sarkies, Astwasatoor Gavork, Margar Pogose and Khojah Petrus for construction costs. The church was completed in 1781 and consecrated by His Grace Bishop Ephreim. The belfry was added in 1837 through donations of another merchant, Johannes Carapiet Sarkies. In 1910, a parsonage was added and the floor of the church was decorated with marble, and electric lights, a donation by Arathoon Stephen of Calcutta. The oldest tombstone is “Avetis” an Armenian merchant who died on 15 August 1714. Apart from Dhaka there was a significant Armenian presence in Saidabad (a suburb of the capital Murshidabad), Hoogli, Kolkata, Chinsura, Patna and Kasimbazar. A neighborhood in Dhaka – Armanitola – bears their name; there the Church of the Holy Resurrection and the cemetery established by the community in 1781 stand as major landmarks. Their assertive presence, however, began to decline from the beginning of British rule. Michael Joseph Martin (Mikel Housep Martirossian) is reported to have been the last Armenian in Dhaka.

The Armenian Apostolic Church of Holy Resurrection of Dhaka still remains today.

The Last Armenian in Dhaka: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2645617.stm

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