By Mitch Kehetian
DETROIT, Mich.—A mission to strengthen the lifeline between local Armenians of Keghetzi roots with the residents of the Nor Keghi Village in the present-day Republic of Armenia remains on course. The spirited project is fueled by heritage dedication and embraced with a wheat-based staple dish that dates back to the ancient Hittites who ruled the Anatolia region of historic Western Armenia 500 years before the birth of Christ.
This wheat-based staple smothered with butter and garlic, revered by Keghetzis as “pagharch,” will be the toast of Kef Time Keghi II, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 25, at St. John Armenian Church Cultural Hall in suburban Southfield.
Last year’s inaugural Kef Time Keghi celebration attracted more than 400 metro Detroit Armenians, who joined hands as one community to dance and dine on pagharch and tass kebab.
Richard Norsigian, chairman of the Nor Keghi Association’s Steering Committee, said funds raised through pagharch celebrations will go to a deserving cause in present-day Armenia. “Our ultimate goal is to fund a community development project in Nor Keghi Villlage that its residents decide upon as a necessary need within their community.”
Nor Keghi Village was established on Feb. 10, 1962, by the government of Soviet Armenia, at the request of Keghi compatriotic units in the Armenian Diaspora.
Norsigian said the donation for the Keghetzi “pagharch” celebration is $40. Dance music will be provided by the Keghi All-Star Armenian Band.
By reviving the spirit of Keghetzi Armenians, committee member and activist Marty Shoushanian pointed out that last year’s event brought Armenians together to celebrate a tradition that ultimately serves the entire community. “While our event serves to fund a community development project in Nor Keghi, it also serves as a uniting force as Armenians worldwide prepare for next year’s 100th observance of the April 24th genocide. We Armenians survived. That’s why this project we’ve started in Detroit has a dedicated goal to create linkage with our fellow Hyes in present-day Armenia.”
According to historical research, the Hittites shaped the pagharch to resemble Keghi’s towering Mt. Sulbuz, which the Keghetzis called Sourp Looys (Holy Light.) For the Hittites, the wheat-based staple to make pagharch was the only whole grain still available in their dwindling storage bins during the freezing winter months that cloaked the Anatolian mountain region.
In addition to the mission to help the Nor Keghi Village, committee member Alice Nigoghosian is expanding the organization’s “family history” project. “While we’ve lost the majority of our senior Keghetzis in our community, we’re asking their children and/or grandchildren to share with us any and all family information they can recall relating to the genocide and how their parents survived to find refuge in America. Nigoghosian is a retired editor of press and publishing at Wayne State University.