Armenian Good Friday, Calcutta (Kolkata)
Burial of Christ ~ Armenian Good Friday
St. Gregory, the Illuminator, Armenian Chapel, Calcutta (Kolkata)
Also see my blog post on Armenians of Calcutta (Kolkata)
The coffin bearers slowly carried the black coffin, beautifully stacked with flowers outside the small chapel adjoining to the Lower Circular Road Cemetery in Calcutta (Kolkata). Strangely it was not a funeral and nor the black coffin contained any dead body !!!!
It was the Good Friday service of the Armenian Christian community at the St. Gregory, the Illuminator Armenian Chapel at Park Circus.
The Armenian history in Calcutta dates back to the mid 17th century. The Armenians have believed to have settled in Calcutta far beyond the days of Job Charncok, the controversial founder of the city.
The Armenians also have the distinction of having the oldest Christian Church in Calcutta. The Armenian Church, officially known as the Holy Church of Nazareth was originally constructed in 1707, but the present building dates back to 1724. The Armenian Christmas Mass, which is held on 6 Jan. instead of 25 Dec., is held at the Armenian Church.
The Good Friday service is held at the St. Gregory, the Illuminator, Armenian Chapel, which is hidden inside a narrow winding lane in the Park Circus area and is adjoining to Lower Circular Road Cemetery.
St. Gregory, the Illuminator, Armenian Chapel was constructed in 1906 by the funds raised by the Indian Armenian Community. The chapel, located on a narrow lane in the Park Circus area is extremely difficult to locate.
The complex also houses an old age home named after an eminent Calcutta Armenian Catchick Paul Chater. The complex also contain several graves of the Chater family. The complex is beautifully decorated with lawns, flowerbeds and marble statues. It can be considered as an oasis of peace in one of the chaotic locations of Calcutta (Kolkata).
Sadly the Good Friday services lacks the grandeur of the Christmas, which is normally attended by the entire Armenian community of Calcutta (Kolkata). On the other hand the Good Friday service is attended only by a handful of Armenians.
The Good Friday Service starts at about 3 pm. Lead by Rev. Father Khoren Hovhannisyan, pastor (priest) of Armenians in India and assisted by Rev. Fr. Geghart Ghabaghyan along with a host of boys from the Calcutta Armenian School and College. It recreates the burial of Jesus Christ.
The black coffin, beautifully stacked with flower was placed before the alter. Prayers were said and songs were sung. The coffin bearers final lift the coffin, supposed to contain the body of Christ, and make their way slowly outside the chapel. They made their way round the chapel and the coffin returns to the original place.
Further prayers follow and the services come to an end with the distribution of the flowers stacked over the coffin, which are said to bring good luck.
- To my Armenian friends Liz Chater and Max Galstaun for providing valuable information about the Good Friday Mass and also about the location of the St. Gregory, the Illuminator, Armenian Chapel.
- To Rev. Father Khoren Hovhannisyan, pastor (priest) of Armenians in India and the entire Armenian Community of Calcutta.