YEREVAN (A.W)—A new Yazidi temple—what is being called the biggest of its kind in the world—is being built approximately 22 miles outside of Yerevan, in the village of Aknalich. The temple, which will be named Quba Mere Diwane, will be built from Armenian granite and Iranian marble and will house a 200-square meter prayer hall, reported the UK’s the Guardian.
The construction is being funded by a Moscow-based Yazidi businessman named Mirza Sloian, according to EurasiaNet, and is scheduled to be completed in 2017.
“This temple is important for us because our community is facing extinction. Our community is displaced around the world, and we need temples in each place for our children to keep their culture and identity,” Ahmed Burjus of the UK branch of Yazda, a global Yazidi organization, told the Guardian.
The Yazidi people represent the largest minority group in Armenia, numbering over 35,000 people. Thousands of Yazidis immigrated to a part of the Russian Empire spanning present-day Armenia and Georgia during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Escaping religious persecution from Ottoman Turks and Sunni Kurds, many Yazidis were killed alongside Armenians during the Armenian Genocide.
There are currently two villages in Armenia’s Armavir Province—Yeraskhahun and Ferik—that are predominantly inhabited by Yazidis. In 2012, the Yazidi community opened the first temple outside their “Lalish” homeland—the temple of Ziarat, in Aknalich village.