Armenia ethnic groups, or ethnic minorities in Armenia are a few, since Armenia is mostly a mono-ethnic country. But still, those ethnic minorities that live in Armenia have their own culture, language, traditions and lifestyle. How do they manage to keep their identity and what challenges do they face?
Armenia ethnic groups or minorities in Armenia have emigrated from different countries during different historical stages and they make up less than 3% of Armenian population.
Who are they? How do they live surrounded by a perfect homogenous nation? Do they keep their identity and, if yes, how?
Let’s discover ethnic minorities in Armenia and their challenges in life!
Armenia Ethnic Groups #1: Yazidis
Are Yazidis Kurds and How They Appeared in Armenia?
In the Democratic Republic of Armenia Kurds were the largest minority. Kurds received political rights and they were so many of them, who became officers in Armenian Army. Furthermore, a Kurdish representative was elected in Armenian Parliament.
During the USSR period, Kurdish literature was published in Armenia, and Kurdish people opened their radio. They also had their national schools in the territory of Armenia. In 1939 so many Kurdish people were forced to leave Armenia.
These people were deported from Armenia, even though they did not want so. Yazidis live in the western part of Armenia. They moved to Armenia in 1800s, and they were victims of Genocide alongside the Armenian people.
The history shows that the identity of Yazidis is not certainly defined, as in some part of history they have been considered as Kurds, and during the other periods, they have been considered as a separate ethnic minority.
The Lifestyle of Yazidi People in Armenia
Yazidi people have their own lifestyle, which is unique, and which defines a part of their character. Their main occupation in Armenia is agriculture and livestock rising.
In rural areas, members this Armenia ethnic group raise sheep and cattle. Women usually work as street sweepers, and men occupy different types of jobs. Ethnic group of Yazidis have a tribal structure, which consist at least of two levels.
Now comes the part, which is very strange for the nations of western countries. Hang on! How old are you? Still not married? Do you know that Yazidi girls marry at the age of around 13, and boys- around 15?
Yazidi people do not marry people outside their class. They generally do not marry Kurds and Armenian people. Monogamy is accepted, although the males of the wealthiest and the highest class may have more than 6 wives.
They put a lot of restrictions in family. For example, if Yazidi leaves his community and moves abroad for a period of more than a year, his marriage is annulated, and it might be restricted for him to marry another wife.
Yazidis Don’t Consider Themselves Kurds
Yazidi minority is well accepted in Armenia, although they make a lot of demonstrations to keep their identity. They do not want to be considered Kurds.
For every ethnic group, even when they are minority in the country they live in, it is very important to save their identity and Yazidis are not exception.
Armenia Ethnic Groups #2: Russians, or Molokans
The History of Molokans in Armenia
People emigrated from “the land of Rus” make up the second largest ethnic group in Armenia. They mostly live in Yerevan and Gyumri, where the Russian border guard bases are located.
The migration to Armenia started in 18th century, when Molokans moved to Armenia. The word “Molokans” means “milk drinkers”.
This Armenia ethnic group is a break-off sect of Russian Orthodox Church. Russian people created traditional Russian villages, such as Semyonvka in Gegharkunik province or Filoetovo in Lori province. These people have also built a lot of Churches in Armenia.
Nowadays Molokans try to keep their identity in rural regions of Armenia, where they generally live. One of the most Molokan occupied villages in Armenia is Fioletovo.
What Are Their Main Occupations and Activities?
Men Molokans’ occupation is mostly agriculture. Women usually help their husbands and sell milk early in the mornings. They are really quiet community in Armenia.
The character and the traditions of this peaceful ethnic group in Armenia are well-impressed in their costumes and dresses.
Men wear kosovorotka and a pullover shirt, which is worn over trousers. The latter is tied with a tasseled cord belt, which is called “payas”.
Old men keep a long beard. Women are costumed with a head shawl, which is called “kosinka”. They wear long dresses, and are very humble. Most of all, they marry people of the same ethnic group.
Like other minorities in the world, Molokans also strive not to lose their identity. This is why in recent years the Molokan population of Armenia started to decrease.
Armenia Ethnic Groups #3: Jews
The Rich History of Jewish Community in Armenia
The Jewish community in Armenia has its deep roots in Armenian history. The history goes back to 2000 years. During the 4th Century, AD, Jewish families were deported to Armenia. They settled in Artashat, Sarehavan, Vaghasabat, Sarisat, Van, Yervandashat and Nakhichevan.
During Soviet times, Jews from Russian SSR and Ukraine SSR also moved to Armenia. What they were looking for was tolerance. The peak of Jewish population in Armenia occurred in that particular period of time.
Opposite to other ethnic minorities of Armenia, Jews were not just ordinary worker. They were mainly intelligentsia, engineers and military officials.
Unfortunately, nowadays Jewish minority in Armenia consists of around 300-500 people. They have established Chabad house in Yerevan, Armenia.
The Life of This Small Jewish Minority
Jewish people have interesting traditions, which are amazingly expressed during the religious holidays. Some holidays are dedicated to the power of God. Others serve to remember the lessons learnt from the past, and of course, some of the holidays are just meant to bring joy and happiness.
Jewish holidays have three different categories: major, minor, modern. Even though they put a difference on the types of holidays, one thing is for sure: all the holidays are celebrated from sundown to sundown.
Jewish people are very loyal to their customs, and this religious loyalty is what defines them.
Minorities in Armenia do not form a huge part of the population. That’s why it is very important for Armenians to treat all of them equally and do not discriminate people by ethnic groups. Armenian people are tolerant and respectful, and they do not cross the line to destruct the identity of people, who live in their country.
Minorities keep a very precious culture, and it is very important to let them create in a free, tolerant, and respectful environment.
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