The grandest day of my life
My memories of Auroville
go back to the years 1965 or 1966. I was a pupil of the Sri Aurobindo
International School in the Ashram. In those years Roger Anger
used to visit the Mother to talk about Auroville. Afterwards he
would sometimes come to our class and give us big sheets and colour
pencils, and ask us to make a drawing of how we imagined the ideal
city. That play of my imagination was my first contact with Auroville.
I must have been 14 at the time. The stories of Mother's ideal
city filled us children with incredible enthusiasm.
Late 1967, beginning
of 1968, many ashramites joined forces to build the first roads
in Auroville. We went by bus, and sweated it out to make the road
from Kuilapalayam to the amphitheatre. One night in Pondicherry
I dreamt of that landscape of red earth, yellow sun and blue sky,
where I was all alone in silence. Somehow, it was an initiation
From Feb 21st to late
in the night of 27th the grounds around the urn and the Banyan
tree were prepared. Buses took us every day early morning and
we would return late evening. My job was to decorate with kolams
the bottom of a big pond, a job that was done together with some
village women and Roger Anger. Once the paint had dried, water
was put into the pond.
When I came home on
the 27th, very tired and covered with red earth, my father told
me that Tanmaya, a teacher from the school, had left a message
that the next day I was going to participate in the ceremony,
February 28th. We left
at 5 a.m. There was a fleet of more than 50 buses waiting for
all the delegates and us children near the Ganesh temple in Pondicherry.
We boarded, and then started what is probably the grandest day
of my life. The buses went to Jipmer hospital, from there passing
Auro-Orchard and Hope to Edayanchavadi and then to the amphitheatre.
Right from Jipmer, through the Edayanvadi village all up to the
urn, crowds were cheering on both sides of the road. When we arrived,
we were seated under the canopies set up all around the amphitheatre.
Pathways were planned
out, and then a boy and a girl representing each country would
walk up the pathway to the urn, carrying a plackard with the name
of that country, and deposit the earth of the country into the
urn, while the Charter was read out in that country's language.
If there was no earth available, we put salt. Mother had selected
Ashram children to represent those countries from which there
were no official representatives. There was a very powerful atmosphere,
especially when we heard the direct broadcast of Mother reading
her message from her room in the Ashram. The entire amphitheatre,
full of people, fell silent. There was the red earth, the hot
sun, the blue sky, and the buses and people were like little ants
in a new cosmos. It was a surrealistic image with a very special
atmosphere: a joining of a strong human aspiration that Auroville
is going to be a grand dream to work for. And there was an incredible
feeling of togetherness - people from all different parts of the
world joining in that aspiration.
When we had done our
bit, there was a big exhibition around the Banyan tree. There
were big blocks of circular concrete for sitting, and everybody
was having a good time. Photos were taken and then somebody discovered
an image of The Mother in the Banyan tree. While she was reading
her Message from her room in the Ashram, she was also present
we went back by bus to Pondicherry. There was a big function in
the garden of the office of the Sri Aurobindo Society. There was
a question and answer session with all the delegates, a lively
interaction, which kept us together for a day or two longer.
ceremony had changed something in me. In the months and years
that followed, I kept coming to Auroville, by bus or cycle, for
doing some digging or some other work. I wouldn't lose a single
opportunity to come. My classmates were equally enthusiastic.
For us it was a sense of picnic. Between 1968 and 1977, when I
finally moved here, we would often come on Saturdays, doing night
duty at the Matrimandir.