Jul 27, 2019, 3:42 PM
Journalist ID: 1316
News Code: 83413375
4 Persons
Badarak symbol of religious minorities' freedom in Iran

Tehran, July 27, IRNA – Holding the Qara Kelisa (black church) Complex annual religious ceremony of Armenians known as Badarak is the symbol of religious minorities' freedom in exercising their rituals in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Qara Kelisa literally means the ‘Black Church’ and is one of the oldest churches in the world. It is an ancient Armenian religious building which was built on the memories of one of the 12 apostles, ‘St. Thaddeus’. The structure is situated in Chaldoran county which is 220 km north of Orumiyeh, the provincial capital of West Azarbaijan.

The Qara Kelisa Complex, which includes the three churches of Qara Kelisa, St. Stepanous and Zoorzoor, was registered on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2008 and dates back to the 7th century.

This year the 65th Badarak religious ceremony is scheduled to take place on July 25 –27 in the Qara Kelisa and pilgrims from various countries are expected to take part in the event.

Holding the annual ceremony is not only indicative of different religions and ethnic groups' peaceful life, it also demonstrates peace and friendship in Iran.

During the ceremony foreign visitors and pilgrims could see Armenians' freedom of action in doing religious practices and share that experience with foreigners around the world. This is a very suitable way to combat the enemies’ anti-Iran propaganda regarding ethnic minorities’ freedom in performing their rituals.

Participation of increasing number of Armenians in the ceremony is a tangible example which indicates Iran is a country of tranquility, security, and supporter of human rights.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, protecting the relics belonging to different religions and paving the way for ethnic groups to perform their religious duties have been the officials’ top priorities. This has also become the prudence of President Rouhani’s government to pay more attention to the right of the divine religions' followers and their ceremonies.

The head of Azarbaijan Armenian Caliphate Council in an interview with IRNA correspondent said: "Religious ceremonies are rarely held with such a glory and number of pilgrims in Christian and non-Christian countries."

Rubik Jananeh added: "Iran's attention to preserving varied religions' sacred sites and providing proper grounds for running special ceremonies in an appropriate way show how the country respects the followers of divine religions."

He went on to say that although Qara Kelisa is situated in the suburb of Chaldoran County, the arrangements for holding the ceremony have been done to provide a tranquil and secure place for the pilgrims.”

Jananeh pointed to the negative propaganda of Iran's enemies concerning violating the right of ethnic groups and said, "When ambassadors, researchers, pilgrims and visitors from around the world participate in the event and realize how it is held gloriously and calmly, they emphasize that Iran is a safe country and has kind-hearted and hospitable people."

What happens in Qara Kelisa during Badarak Ceremony?

Visitors and travelers arrive one day ahead to participate in the ceremonies and settle in the tents. Participation in the rituals is not obligatory for the Armenians and those who are interested could attend the Church individually or in groups to carry out the religious rituals.

Pilgrims and visitors gather together at the church following the bell toll at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday or Friday to perform the prayer ceremony and religious duties in the presence of the bishop.

Religious people and strong believers who have taken a vow, do their prayer from the early sunrise attending the church individually, lighting candles, stretching their hands in sincere wishes, kissing the church threshold, and in some cases taking sanctuary.

In general, the religious rites of Armenians consist of five prayers in each of which one may take part optionally.

During these days some of the pilgrims whose needs have been granted by God, as a tradition buy a sheep and slaughter or have it slaughtered by the inhabitants of Qara Kelisa village during the pilgrimage days.

It is interesting to know that the Armenian youth purchase ornamental items such as bracelets, earrings and necklaces from the temporary local stands and take them to the pastor for blessing and some others attend this place for baptizing their children by the clergymen.

The main ceremony kicks off at around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday by ringing the church bell in the presence of the bishop. Performing religious carols as a choir, preaching of the religious leaders, saying prayers and chanting verses of the Gospel, carrying out the particular rituals like baptism, conclusion of marriage, circumambulation (Tawaf) the Church accompanying the bishop and above all, blessing of water and Nish Kharak which is the special bread prepared for this day.

This is not the whole story about Qara Kelisa and Badarak ceremony but the most significant fact about the story is that in spite of a large number of ethnic and religious diversities, Iranians coexist peacefully and accept the differences of divine religions respectfully.


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