BY DIKO CHEKIAN
FRESNO–A landmark event is set to take place in the heart of one of the original Armenian communities in California-Fresno. In May 2006, the Armenian Cultural Foundation began plans for its first annual Grand Armenian Festival, and has since been preparing for a three-day long celebration of Armenian culture, food, music, and entertainment. The highlight of the festival, which takes place September 21-23, is a tradition within its self.
Prpoor (pronounced puhr-poor, meaning foam or froth) began in the village of Kessab, Syria over 800 years ago, by Armenian villagers. The story of Prpoor is as follows…after the autumn harvest, an ad hoc committee of local farmers is very casually formed and a date is set for the festivities. Meanwhile, a town crier spreads the news to all the children in the village to gather all the grapes that are left over from the harvest. These final remnants of the year’s crop, called strippers, are crushed, much in the fashion of a village–by foot. The juice is set over a wood fire to boil for hours. The climax of the event is reached when the juice, now a thick molasses, reaches the proper consistency to begin foaming. The “godfather,” an informally appointed leader, reaches in, using a hollowed gourd as a ladle, and begins to ribbon the molasses through the air shouting “PRPOOR, PRPOOR” at which point all the villagers follow in his cry. Actually, this is when the true party begins.
As the villagers commence in traditional line dance others stand in line to taste the sweet foam of Prpoor, that is traditionally sampled with a Bay leaf. Legend says that the Prpoor has medicinal purposes too; helping cure flu’s, headaches and even fevers, but that could just be an excuse to have the party in the first place!
Along with these festivities, the ACF has scheduled a full line of entertainment for the public, including, Armenian Folk concert by Chookasian folk Ensemble, music for children by Maggie, traditional Armenian needle work demonstrations, a mock Armenian Wedding, and so much more.
Once kept a secret, this unique event is now being made available for the public to enjoy.