Armenian Traditions and Celebrations: Dzaghgazart (Palm Sunday)

Dzaghgazart, with the literal translation to English being “decorated with flowers”, is celebrated by Armenians around the world who follow the Christian Faith. The day has been declared to be the Day of Blessing the Children, in memory of the fact that during the entry of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, children were rejoicing and crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” On Palm Sunday, the Armenian Church remembers the multitude that welcomed with palms, olive branches and cries of Hosanna (Glory to God!). The Church is decorated with palms and olive branches, which are distributed to the worshipers. According to the doctrine of the fathers, throwing clothes in front of Jesus symbolized freeing oneself of sins, while giving branches as gifts was a symbol of honors and ceremonies. The olive branch was considered to be the symbol of wisdom, peace, victory and glory. Giving olive and date branches to Christ who resurrected the dead Ghazaros is the symbol of victory over death.Later in the day, the Armenian Church holds the “Opening of the Doors” (Trnpatsek) service, symbolic of our entrance into Heaven.

In reality, the celebration in Armenia predates Christianity. It was a day of worship dedicated to the resurrection of nature and directly connected to the legend of Ara the Beautiful. When Ara died by the hands of the Assyrian Queen Shamiram’s army, she placed him atop a mountain, beseeching the Aralez gods to lick his wounds and give him back his life. This signifies the rebirth in nature, a testimony to the power of the Heavens. The worship centered largely around the tree of life, known as the Genats tree, which was found to be the predecessor of the Poplar and Sosin trees. Sacred Altars to the Gods were erected among these trees, creating a grove and Godswood. The worship of the sacred trees was so paramount that when Christianity disallowed for the existence of such worship, names such as Sos, Sosi, Soseh, and Chinar came about instead. The pagan Arorti religion would continue on and still exists to this day.

One of the traditions that still exists to this day and is connected to the worship of the sacred trees representing the Tree of Life is the tying of colorful cloth to the branches as prayers and wishes and dreams are offered to the Heavens. Furthermore, the trees are decorates with eggs, as a symbol of life and fertility, a celebration of rebirth.

Another part of the worship was related to the goddess Nouri (Nar, Houri, Nvart), who reigned over the rainy weather and the fertility of the soil. She was turned into a doll with a rainbow belt after Christianity was adopted and forced onto the population. Children would run around with their dolls of Nouri and plates for donations. The people would gather and would dance and sing after sacrificing a lamb to the purity and generosity of Nouri.

-Նուրի-Նուրին էկել ա,

Շիլա-շաբիք հագել ա,

Կարմիր գոտին կապել ա,

Ձու բերեք թաթին դնենք,

Եղ բերենք` սրտին քսենք…

Սրտին քսել means to win over

 

Another version of the song is sung as such: 

-Նուրի-Նուրին էկել ա,

Դուռն ի դռան կանգնել ա,

Շալե շաբիք հագել ա,

Կեշմե գոտիք կապել ա,

Ձու բերեք, թաթը դնենք,

Եղ բերեք` վարսը քսենք,

Ջուր բերեք` գլխին ածենք,

Աստուծանե ցող թող գա,

Գետնիցը` պտուղ դուս գա…

Լուսանկարը` Նազիկ Արմենակյանի

 

Trnspatsek (Opening of the Doors) information: http://www.armenianchurch-ed.net/wpblog/tag/palm-sunday/

Ancient/Pagan traditions and information: http://ankakh.com/2012/04/193031/

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