Pilgrimage Of Armenians From Nakhichevan-On-Don To Surb Karapet Monastery

The pilgrimage of people from Nakhichevan-on-Don was not limited to Jerusalem. Older people traveled there, while male youth before marriage would go to the Surb Karapet Monastery in the city of Mush (Historical Armenia).

The youth would usually gather from Novo-Nakhichevan (Rostov-on-Don), Ekaterinodar (Krasnodar), and Stavropol. They, all on horseback, armed with rifles and daggers, traveled to Tiflis and Erivan, where they formed groups of several dozen.

On the border with Turkey, they would take guards from the local Armenians because of gangs of Kurds wandering in Asian Turkey. Skirmishes with the Kurds were frequent, but the Armenians were able to fight back thanks to the experience and courage of the well-armed guards.

Since it was necessary to travel through the mountains of Armenia, the pilgrimage, in addition to religious goals, was distinguished by the special daring and endurance of participants. Due to this, the youth who had undergone pilgrimage could get married.

The farewells were the same as for those who would go to Jerusalem, but with one difference – the Mush pilgrims were accompanied by friends. The parting at the border could not be done without drinking.

Returning travelers brought gifts that were handed out to relatives, including halva containing a special kind of greens with honey juice. It is said that this halva was the very manna that is mentioned in the Gospel in the description of the life of John the Baptist (Surb Karapet in Armenian).

Halva was handed out to honored guests, girls were given glass rings and bracelets similar to those from Jerusalem, and the Armenian youth received brochures published in Constantinople and Venice.

In the evenings, at gatherings, people would talk about the nature and climate of Armenia, majestic mountains, ravines, fast mountain streams and rivers, minerals, and the natural treasures of mountains not yet cultivated by the human.

Grigor Narinyan

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