Armenia on Tuesday mourned one of its most famous descendants, singer Charles Aznavour who died Monday aged 94, commemorating him in parliament, on the streets and in underground train stations.
Shops and cafes in the capital Yerevan played songs by the French- Armenian crooner. Wellwishers laid flowers and wreaths at memorials set up in a cultural centre and a city square that bear his name.
The Armenian parliament held a moment of silence to pay respects to Aznavour, who died in his home in southern France on Monday. The Armenian government decreed a day of mourning for the day of the singer’s burial.
“Many people worship Aznavour and adore his music even if they don’t understand a single word of French,” said student Marina Sargsyan.
“Charles’s music penetrates hearts and souls and it speaks for itself even without words.”
In a food shop, cashier Armine Bayatyan said she and her customers were “in shock”.
They recalled that Aznavour had promised to mark his 100th birthday with a concert in Armenia.
“There is such sorrow, such sadness in the eyes of everyone who comes into our store today,” she said.
In Yerevan Aznavour’s music was played in all the metro stations.
“Glory to the great Armenian, to our beloved Charles,” the metro’s spokesman Tatev Khachatryan wrote on Facebook.
Aznavour was born Shakhnour Aznavuryan to Armenian immigrants in Paris in 1924.
He was deeply involved in charity and activism in Armenia for decades.
He was given honorary Armenian citizenship by former president Serzh Sargsyan in 2008.
“Mankind has lost one of the most tender souls of the 20th century,” current President Armen Sargsyan said in a statement.
“A father has left us, one who only physically was far from his homeland,” he added.
“You are always with us, dear Charles, with your people and with your homelands, Armenia and France.”