NEW YORK – In these times of homogenized languages in all countries, it was a joy to hear traditional Greek carols sung in the delightful dialect rooted in ancient Greek of the Black Sea region of Pontos when the Pontian Society Komninoi of New York visited the offices of The National Herald during the holidays.
Led by the Society’s President, Dimitrios Molochitis, an environmental engineer born in Katerini in northern Greece with roots in Trapezounta and Sourmena on the Black Sea coast, singers, dancers, and musicians filled the building and the hearts of its inhabitants with music and memories.
Molochitis told TNH “We are singing the traditional holiday carols of Pontos accompanied by Pontian lyra,” the region’s traditional bowed string instrument.
He added, “They are the traditional Greek songs, but the children are taught to sing them with the Pontian accent. The practice sessions are also an opportunity for them to learn Pontian history directed by Eleni Tsitsatalidou.”
The society has three dance groups comprising about 55 children which are directed by Triantafillos Kalemkerides.
After visiting TNH, they divided into two groups to hit the main sections of Astoria. One band went to the 23rd Avenue Ditmars Boulevard area, near the Society’s headquarters, and the other visited stores on Broadway and the 30th Avenue strip.
The Society’s new board of directors is developing some new initiatives with an emphasis on educational and cultural programs. “We will begin a series of four seminars on Pontian history and civilization and are working together with the monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou where the presentations will take place. The first one will be given by Dr. Isidoros Sidiropoulos on Friday, January 20 at 6:30 PM titled “The Greeks in Pontos, from myth to history.” On Friday April 1 “The monastic life and monasteries of Pontos” will be presented by the Very Rev. Ierotheos Markopoulos. Dr. Haralambos Vasiliadis will present on Friday, May 13 at 6:30 PM “The Genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor,” and on Friday, June 3 “Pontian Customs” will be presented by Vasiliki Tsanaktsidou.
Greeks are hungry for the history of their nation, but even more so for the food of its many regions. The women’s division of the Society will present “Pontos Tastes”, dedicated to Pontian Cuisine on Sunday, January 31at 1:30 PM at headquarters.
Molochites emphasized the importance of educational programs for young people and noted they will be using material produced by The Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center in Chicago. Handbooks on the history of Pontos will be used with elementary school students and the Pontian Genocide is for college age individuals. “These will be used to teach the children of the Association,” he said.