Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Armenian Graves at Surat India, New History Revealed

A chance viewing of a posting on the social network site of Facebook led to a wonderful joint international effort to uncover some hitherto previously unknown and unseen historically important Armenian graves at Surat in India.

Liz Chater, who has an ongoing project to photograph and record as many Armenian graves in India as possible, was fortunate to stumble upon a wonderful set of photographs posted on the Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO Group page on the popular social networking site Facebook.  Striking up a conversation thread with the Arpine Gyulinyan who had made the posting, it quickly became clear to Liz that there were a number of others as well.

Arpine who is happily married and lives in Surat permanently with her husband Piyush Dalal had recently visited the Surat Science Centre. At the entrance was a large photograph entitled “ARMENIAN CEMETERY”.  Enquiring about the photograph with staff members she was advised that the Science Centre’s photographer, Sanjay Choksi, was extremely knowledgeable about all the cemeteries in Surat including the Armenian one. Sanjay kindly agreed to take Arpine and her husband Piyush to the Armenian cemetery the next day.

Through Arpine, permission was sought of and granted by Sanjay for copies of the photographs to be sent to Liz with a view to trying to get them transcribed and translated into English.  Knowing of their historical importance and the fact that these graves had never before been translated into English, Liz turned to experts in this field for help. 

Liz approached Professor Sebouh Aslanian, Assistant Professor, Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA and Very Reverend Father Krikor Maksoudian of Arlington, Massachusetts a professor of Armenian Church history and a past director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Centre New York, both of whom very generously agreed to assist with these difficult transcriptions. Very Reverend Fr. Krikor had previously assisted Liz with the grave transcriptions for her book: “Armenian Graves, Inscriptions and Memorials in India DACCA 1722-1977” published last year. There are very few people who are able to successfully transcribe from the now extinct Julfan dialect.  The graves at Surat are of that very rare dialect and Liz was indeed very fortunate to have two such exceptional experts willing to assist and help break down historic barriers. The Armenians of Surat are of particular interest to Professor Aslanian and he was keen to help with the translations.

For family historians and scholars alike, the newly translated Armenian graves of Surat will open up avenues of research that had been closed for many years. This project is a fine example of social networking operating in a positive and useful fashion, bringing individuals together who normally would never meet, and on this occasion Liz was simply a conduit by which the whole process passed. She is delighted to host and share this joint effort on her website and also wishes to thank all those involved for their time, effort and patience to ensure the rare and important details of these monuments are available for the future researcher. The English transcriptions can be found at:

There are a number of other graves that require to be photographed, it is hoped that these will be completed shortly.  Additional transcriptions are being added weekly to her website.

Courtesy: Ms. Liz Chater

Thursday, June 7, 2012

ITEC scholarship presentation for Armenian citizens

Within the framework of celebrating 20th anniversary of Indo-Armenian diplomatic relationship, Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO, in association with Embassy of India in Armenia organized a special event on 18th May 2012 at Hotel Ani Plaza, Yerevan, Armenia. The event was dedicated to create awareness about "Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation" scholarship program (popularly known as ITEC Program) among Armenian citizens.

IAF Secretary General Ms. Lusine Toroyan
addressing the audience

IAF Secretary General, Ms. Lusine Toroyan warmly welcomed all the guests on behalf of IAF Co-founders and President Mr. Rananjay Anand and Vice-President Mrs. Ruzanna Ashughyan Anand. She gave an introductory note and overview of event details. According to her words, all the events organized this year by Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO are dedicated to the celebration of 20th Anniversary of Indo-Armenian bilateral relations. Thereafter, Mr. Pankaj Saxena, Charghe de' Affaires of Embassy of India in Armenia gave a full presentation of "ITEC" scholarship program, which was launched on 15th September, 1964 as bilateral program of assistance of the Government of India. It is the flagship program of the Indian Govt's technical cooperation effort, not only because of its wide geographical coverage but also for innovative forms of technical cooperation. Being essentially bilateral in nature, ITEC is about cooperation and partnership for mutual benefit. It is demand-driven response-oriented. It is focused on addressing the needs of developing countries. It's relevance has grown manifold in contemporary world, when India is world's leading economy with giant leaps in technology and economy. Sharing this expertise is promoting the very concept of Global Partnership.

Every year the Ministry of External Affairs of India (MEA), organizes educational courses within the framework of ITEC Programs. The Embassy of India in Yerevan implements the selection of Armenian citizens for different courses within ITEC Programs. Then the course offered by ITEC as well as useful advice to program participants about the application procedures were presented by Mr. Saxena. Mr. Saxena answered to questions asked by inquisitive and enthusiastic participants of the event. He introduced Ms. Suman Latha Abrol from Indian Embassy, as the main responsible person for any ITEC application from Armenia.

 Mr. Pankaj Saxena
Charghe de' Affaires of Embassy of India in Armenia
ITEC alumni Ms. Inga Petrosyan and Luiza Ayvazyan were invited to share their own  ITEC experiences and impressions to potential future participants. After all Q&A session, IAF introduced its Annual Membership Announcement to the present audience. A separate posting would be published regarding this announcement. The Program ended with High Tea.

As IAF Co-Founders and President are based out in New Delhi, so we recommend our all future ITEC participants to contact them immediately after they land in India. They can be reached through email "". It would be our great pleasure to assist our friends from Armenia in India.

Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO wishes all the future participants of ITEC a great success in the programs of selection.