‘Gar oo Chgar’: Kasbarian Speaks at HMADS

OAKLAND GARDENS, N.Y.—On Wed., Oct. 12, as part of month-long events dedicated to the creation of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrob Mashdots, the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School (HMADS) invited speaker Lucine Kasbarian, the author of Armenia: A Rugged Land, An Enduring People, to introduce her latest book, The Greedy Sparrow. Retold by Kasbarian in English, the tale of the sparrow has been a part of the Armenian oral tradition for centuries, and was first written down by Hovhannes Toumanian.

Kasbarian came dressed in traditional Armenian garb and truly captivated the students as she read from her book.

Kasbarian came dressed in traditional Armenian garb and truly captivated the students as she read from her book and later talked to them about immersion (“Yes, you can be both Armenian and American in this world”), the preservation of our identity, and how unique our ethnic rituals are. She asked, “How can we reclaim and preserve some of our customs? Can we feel closer to our ancestors because of it? In what way can we truly honor them?” By attending Armenian schools, enjoying the instructions of their Armenian teachers, learning and singing Armenian music, and going to dance classes, was the response.

She credited her great-grandmother and father for enriching her life and introducing her to Armenian fables and folktales. The children then heard her father’s voice on tape retelling the story of “The Greedy Sparrow” in his Dikranagerd dialect.

Most fables begin with “Gar oo chgar” (or, “Once there was and was not”), but they also carry a profound message or lesson that still applies in modern times.

This heart-warming event concluded with the author signing copy after copy of her book, while her numerous admirers waited impatiently.

In a special program to be held on Mon., Oct. 24, HMADS students will honor Mesrob Mashdots, Sahag Bartev, King Vramshabuh and the Holy Translators through songs and recitations from Missak Medsarents on his 125th anniversary.

For more information about HMADS, the first Armenian elementary day school on the East Coast, visit www.hmads.org.

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