Armenian Church (Dhaka)

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Armenian Church

The Armenian Church in Old Dhaka
23°42′45.6″N 90°24′11.4″E / 23.712667°N 90.403167°E / 23.712667; 90.403167
Location Armanitola, Dhaka
Country Bangladesh
Denomination Armenian Apostolic Church
History
Founded 1781 (1781)

The Armenian Church (also known as Armenian Apostolic Church of the Holy Resurrection)[1] is a historically significant architectural monument situated in the Armanitola area of old Dhaka, Bangladesh. The church bears testimony to the existence of a significant Armenian community in the region in the 17th and 18th centuries.

History[edit]

Following the domination of their homeland by Persian powers of the time, Armenians were sent by their new rulers to the Bengal region for both political and economic reasons. Although the Armenian presence in South Asia is now insignificant, their presence in Dhaka dates back to the 17th century.[2] Armenians came to Dhaka for business, and have been acknowledged[by whom?] for displaying a passion for trade comparable to that of the Bengalis of the time. In Dhaka, Armenian merchants traded in jute and leather, and profitability in these businesses convinced some to move permanently to Bangladesh.[3] The area where they lived became known as Armanitola.

In 1781 the now famous Armenian Church was built on Armenian Street in Armanitola, then a thriving business district. The site was an Armenian graveyard before the church was built, and the tombstones that have survived serve as a chronicle of Armenian life in the area.[3] Agaminus Catachik, an Armenian, gave away the land to build the church. Michel Cerkess, Okotavata Setoor Sevorg, Aga Amnius, and Merkers Poges helped build the church.[citation needed]

In the fifty years following the church's construction, a clock tower was erected on its western side. Allegedly, the clock could be heard four miles away, and people synchronised their watches with the sound of the tower's bell. The clock stopped in 1880, and an earthquake destroyed the tower in 1897.[2]The Armenian played a prominent part in the jute trade in Dhaka and are reputed to be the pioneers of that trade in the second half of the 19th century.Today, the last Armenian that takes cares of the church is Mikhail Hopcef Martirossian (Micheal Joseph Martin).He was also one of the Armenian who was in the jute trade.

Architecture[edit]

The church plan is rectangular. Features include an arched gate and an arched door. There are a total of four doors and 27 windows. The main floor is divided into three parts: a pulpit enclosed by railings, a middle section with two folding doors, and an area separated by a wooden fence for seating women and children. There is a spiral staircase into the church.

Modern use[edit]

Mother Teresa stayed in this church during a visit to Dhaka.[citation needed]

In the old graveyard, amongst the 350 people buried there, a statue stands at the grave of Catachik Avatik Thomas, portraying his wife. The statue was bought from Kolkata and the grave is inscribed with the words "Best of Husband."[4]

Today, the church is usually closed. It has been the subject of BBC and AFP documentaries, and has received recognition from the Bangladeshi government as an archaeological site under the jurisdiction of the department of architecture.[clarification needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Armenian Church: Legacy of a Bygone Era by theindependent
  2. ^ a b Chaudhury, Sushil (2006). "Armenians, The" (Web page). Banglapedia. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Lawson, Alastair (10 January 2003). "The mission of Dhaka's last Armenian". BBC. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Kabir, Tasneem Tayeb (23 December 2011). "The Armenian Church: Legacy of a Bygone Era". The Independent. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 

Muntasir Mamun: When Colonel Davidson was in Dhaka; Dhaka, 1991.
Muntasir Mamun: Dhaka Smriti Bsmritir Nogory; Dhaka, 1993.
Star Weekend Magazine; volume-6, issue 10, March16, Dhaka, 2007.

External links[edit]