(Persia Digest) – The traditional baptism service of the 11th day of the new Christian year was held on Friday in Saint Mary’s Church, Shiraz southern Iran, by Armenian-Iranians.

The head of Shiraz’s Armenian church representatives said: “The service is held every year on the fifth day of January; but because of its coincidence with similar services held in the city of Isfahan and other major cities, the Holy Priest is not available in Shiraz on that day and we hold the service on the first Friday after Isfahan’s ceremony.”

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Hermond Aratunian added: “Isfahan’s ceremony is held first due to the large number of Armenians in the city.”

He said that Armenians living in Shiraz gather in the church on holy occasions every year, including two Easter ceremonies which are held at the beginning of spring, and the baptism and New Year services.

Aratunian, also a member of the Council of Armenian Diocese of southern Iran, added: “Iran’s Armenians consider themselves as Iranians and are free to hold all their religious ceremonies without restrictions.”

Also present at the ceremony was Archbishop Masrup Golestanian who commented on reports by certain Western media about certain restrictions for Iranian religious minorities.

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“I wonder what is the rational basis of these media for making such statements since, as the followers of a divine religion, we are living in complete freedom and perform all our personal and religious rituals based on our own faith,” said the archbishop.

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