February 28, 1968
Thirty-five years ago Auroville's inauguration ceremony took place
on a barren plateau in Tamil Nadu. What exactly happened? Gleaned
from preparatory Ashram documents, participants' memories and
newspaper reports, this resumé is perhaps the closest we'll
get to the definitive story.
The ceremony, which
would take 75 minutes, began at 10.24 with the white-clad announcer
briefly explaining the order of events to come to the 5,000 or
so people assembled in the amphitheatre. At 10.30 there was the
sound of a gong, there were a few bars of Mother's music, then
came Mother's voice, relayed from her room in the Ashram:
Salut d'Auroville à
tous les hommes de bonne volonté. Sont convies a Auroville
tous ceux qui ont soif de progress et aspirant a une vie plus
haute et plus vraie.
from Auroville to all men of goodwill. Are invited to Auroville
all those who thirst for progress and aspire to a higher and truer
A few more bars of music
followed, then Mother read The Charter of Auroville in French.
The announcer then stated,
"Now the earth from the Ashram will be put in the urn."
Kiran and Vijay Poddar approached the urn. Kiran carried Mother's
flag and Vijay carried earth from the Samadhi and a stainless
steel container with inside the scroll with The Charter of Auroville
in Mother's handwriting. As they reached the urn Sunil's 1968
New Year music began to be played, along with Mother's New Year
message: Remain young, Never stop striving towards Perfection.
The stainless steel container was lowered deep into the urn by
ribbons, along with the earth.
The announcer then introduced
the formula which would be followed for the rest of the ceremony.
The Charter would be read successively in 16 languages by nationals
(usually Ashramites) of those countries or cultures (the languages
in order were Tamil, Sanskrit, English, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch,
German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian,
Spanish, Swedish and Tibetan). Before each reading the announcer
would introduce the translation - "Now the Charter in Tamil
will be read..." - and specify which states of India or countries
would approach the urn during that reading (the states first,
countries afterwards, all in alphabetical order). In all, two
young delegates from each of the 23 States or Union Territories
of India and representatives from 124 countries (63 persons were
delegated by embassies, the rest were students from the Ashram
school) walked up to the urn. In each pair one would carry a placard
with the name of their State or country, the other would carry
earth (or a substitute) from that State or country in a small
bowl. After the earth was tipped into the urn, the representatives
walked down the ramp from the urn. Their plackard was taken and
placed in a pre-assigned socket, they signed a scroll with their
names and the name of their State or country, and then they walked
up a ramp out of the central arena.
Finally came the announcement, "Now the earth of Auroville
will be put in the urn. Then the urn will be sealed." Michel
(Kalya) and Fabienne, Mother's great-grandchildren, approached
the urn. Michel carried Auroville earth while Fabienne carried
the Auroville flag (the symbol was an open lotus with another
lotus in its centre against a background of 'dawn gold'). Then
Nolini and his son walked to the urn. He placed the lid over the
top and removed the screwed handle. The urn was sealed, the inauguration
of Auroville complete.