A Village Remembered: The Armenians of Habousi - The Compatriotic Union of Habousi

Chapter 11:


Since there were no doctors in Habousi, at childbirth the midwife acted as obstetrician. She was an illiterate woman, but well-versed in her profession. When the time of birth approached, the midwife was called and stayed with the laboring mother until the infant was born.

Habousi’s midwife, Sarig Nana, was a pious woman. She always prayed before she started the delivery. “I’m only the medium,” she would say, “God is the deliverer.”

As soon as the infant was born, the godfather was informed. He was happy. The godfather was the guardian of the newborn for life. His happiness would be greater if the infant were a boy, and he would say, “A light is added.”

At the baptism, the godfather held the infant in his arms during the long ceremony. The priest would first take his confession and give him communion. Then he would ask, “What does this child want?” The Godfather would answer, “Havadk, houys, ser yev mgrdutioun,” meaning “Faith, hope, love and baptism.”

Baptism was performed by immersion in a font built in the wall of the church. Then the priest carefully opened the bottle of Chrism and anointed the infant on the forehead, chest, palms, and armpits.

After the baptism the godfather went with the infant and his father to their house where the mother of the child was found sitting on a cushion on the floor, her face covered with her bridal veil. Next to her a bed was made for the infant. The godfather placed the baby on the bed, and if a boy, he said, “Let him be durable,” and if a girl, “Let God give her grace.”

Then everyone enjoyed the “feast of baptism” and wished happiness for the infant. A present, prepared by the child’s mother, was given to the godfather before he left. After childbirth the mother remained indoors for forty days.
The godfather was highly respected by the whole family. The mother of the child was not allowed to speak to him for the rest of her life, out of respect.