Some 700 couples tied the knot in a mass ceremony, through an event organized by benefactor Levon Hayrapetyan ( standing in front ) in an effort to encourage an increase in Karabakh's population.
Seven hundred couples from all over Nagorno-Karabakh were married during two separate ceremonies on October 16. Two hundred couples wed at Gandzasar Monastery, perched above the village of Vank. The marriage ceremony was conducted by Bishop Yezras Nercessian, primate of the Diocese of New Nakhichevan and Russia. The other 500 couples were married in Shushi, at Sourp Amenaprkich Ghazanchetsots Cathedral by Archbishop Barkev Mardirossian, primate of the Diocese of Artsakh.
After the marriage rites, the couples celebrated, dancing and singing, at the stadium in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian pop stars held a gala concert for the newlywed couples later in the evening. A spectacular fireworks show followed.
Mr. Hairapetian presented each couple with a gift of $2,000 and a cow.
Wedding certificates for the 700 couples were passed out during the evening's celebrations. Leaders from Nagorno-Karabakh, along with guests from Armenia and the diaspora also took part in the daylong celebrations.
700 couples tied the knot in a mass ceremony
This unprecedented event was made possible by Russian-Armenian entrepreneur Levon Hairapetian, a native of Artsakh. Mr. Hairapetian presented each couple with a gift of $2,000 and a cow. He has also promised to bestow a monetary gift upon each child born to the couples. He has pledged to give the first child born to each new couple $2,000; the second child, $3,000; the third child, $5,000 - and for the more adventuresome - upon the birth of a seventh child, a gift of $100,000 to the couple.
After the marriage rites, the couples celebrated, dancing and singing
700 young Armenian couples who were married in one day in Nagorno-Karabakh, October 16, 2008.