Diyarbakir Armenians Celebrate Easter Under Lockdown

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey—Armenians in Diyarbakir celebrated Easter at home today amid the coronavirus lockdown, continuing—at a distance—a tradition that has brought community members together in recent years.

Dara Melike Günal celebrated Easter at home with her niece. They baked choreg and, of course, had an egg-fight. 

Despite the lockdown, she remained positive, telling the Weekly that she hoped, “Easter becomes a turning point for all humanity, bringing light, hope, cure and love.”

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For the small community that has coalesced around the Surp Giragos Church since its renovation in 2011, Easter is about religion, tradition and resistance. They see in it a symbol of the revival of the Armenian community, and they celebrated it by gathering there.

But since 2016, when the Turkish state restricted access to the church, the community has gathered elsewhere, at restaurants and halls, to celebrate Easter.

This year, the coronavirus restrictions further limited the community’s ability to celebrate together. 

Gafur Türkay’s colored eggs

“We are all at home. In lockdown. But we colored eggs and prepared choreg,” said community leader Gafur Türkay.

“But last year, we celebrated it at a restaurant. There were 150 of us. [Turkish scholar] Baskin Oran and his wife also joined us,” Türkay reminisced, also expressing his confidence that the community will gather again.

Udi Yervant’s choreg and colored egg display

Musician and performer “Udi Yervant” also celebrated Easter with choreg and eggs colored in red, blue and orange, the colors of the Armenian flag. He returned to Diyarbakir in 2013 after years of living in exile in the U.S. 

Since his return, “Udi Yervant” has been a permanent fixture of musical events in Diyarbakir, as well as at Armenian community gatherings. Last year, he performed at the community’s Easter celebration. This year, he posted some recordings on his Instagram account and shared some of his new music on YouTube and Spotify.

The Weekly echoes Udi Yervant’s wishes to its readers: “Pari Zadigner!” 

In recent years (2013 and 2014), the Weekly has reported on Easter celebrations in Diyarbakir. 

1 Comment

  1. Hello, how can I connect with Dara Melike Gunal. I saw her in the movie about Armenians in Turkey. Maybe you know her page in Facebook or Instagram. Let me know please.

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