‘Last Armenians’ of Diyarbakır tie the knot after 60 years of waiting

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Diyarbakır’s recently restored Surp Giragos Armenian Church has been the witness of a very special wedding, the “yes, I do” of two octogenarians, pronounced after long overdue by some 60 years.

With the tuxedo, the groom Bayzo, 87-years-old, reverenced as “the last Armenian” of Diyarbakır for being the dean of what remains of the southeastern city’s once significantly large community. With the traditional dress, his three years younger bride Sarkiz, from the province’s district of Silvan, also the hometown of the acting head of the Armenian patriarchate in Turkey, Aram Ateşyan.

The couple could have been celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary, instead they will content themselves to experience the excitement of newly-weds after 60 years of a reluctant concubinage.

“I did not want to die unmarried,” said Bayzo right before the ceremony, apparently moved. He then explained that most of his Armenian friends chose to leave the country, but now the city is looking after its Armenian cultural heritage – one example is the restoration of the Surp Giragos church, which had been the nexus of the community.

“I wanted this marriage so much and I feel so blessed. May God give such a happy day to everyone in their life,” he added.

Gülten Kışanak, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair who was elected Diyarbakır mayor during the March 30 elections was present to conduct the office, also homage the couple, expressed her wish that they can be an example for the youth.

“This is no ordinary marriage. We are witnessing the immortal love of two people who have not consummated their love for each other. They have succeeded in their struggle to remain standing in this land with the power of their love,” Kışanak said.

But the couple had no intention of letting long solemn talks overshadow their wedding and celebrated just like any young newly-weds. Surrendering to cheers, Bayzo stepped onto Sarkiz’s foot, a gesture meant to signify who will be the head of the household. Sarkiz, for her part, threw her bouquet to a crowd of unmarried women half a century her junior.

Yervant Bostancı, the famous oud master of Armenian descent who decided to return to Diyarbakır late last year after 20 years of self-imposed exile, played Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish songs, adding more symbolism to a marriage providing Armenians the feeling that Diyarbakır can become their home once again.

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