|Early report, Feb 3rd||
AVI International Meeting 2010
During the first two weeks of February Auroville International held its annual meeting 2010, first in Orissa and then in Auroville. The visit to Orissa was planned to make Auroville better known in this federal Indian state, which has strong and long-standing connections with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. There are, for example, more than 600 Integral Educational Centers and 11,300 Sri Aurobindo Study Circles all over Orissa.
The Gajapati Maharaja Sri Dibyasingha Deb, former member of the Auroville Governing Board, had taken the patronage of the whole Orissa event, encouraging and supporting our main organizers and members of AVI France, Devasmita Patnaik, whose family comes from Orissa, and her husband Satyakam Karim. They meticulously planned the whole event, every single detail was thought of and carried out in the most beautiful way. Our gratitude to them is immense!
The Maharaja gave the opening speech at the public day in Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa, stayed for the five hours of presentations cum music and dance interludes, had dinner with us later and invited us, during an outing some days later, to his palace in Puri for the Mahaprasad from the Jaganath Temple. His kind and open attitude impressed us all.
The main Auroville presentations took place in a big Bhubaneswar conference hall, adjacent to our lovely hotel. The presenters Deepti, Luigi, Joss, Toine and Uma spoke on Auroville´s way to realize human unity, on city planning and development, environmental work, sustainable energy and educational approach and on Auroville´s entrepreneurial and social outreach activities. They fascinated the audience of close to 500 people, triggering many interesting questions. An exhibition of Dominique Darr´s beautiful photos of 40 years Auroville experience was set up in the conference hall, giving the appropriate framework to the event.
Another presentation at KIIT Technical University the next day met with a smaller audience but some interested questions also followed.
Not only did our organizers give us a “state reception”, with an auspicious conch shell blowing, a music band and “Orissa greets Auroville International” banners welcoming us at the Bhubaneswar airport, but we were actually received by the Chief Minister of Orissa, Sri Naveen Patnaik. He gave us twenty minutes to explain the aim and purpose of our visit, kindly commenting on Auroville´s great mission for India and the world.
Valuable contacts with Orissa ministries, like with Mr. Debi Prassad Mishra, the state Minister of Tourism and Culture, with officials from the Ministry of Education, and other institutions engaged in cultural, social, educational and environmental work could be established from the Auroville presenters and the organizers.
Our experience of Oriya culture was extremely rich, we visited the beautiful temple sites of Bhubaneswar , Puri and Konarak, the caves of Khandagiri and Dhauligiri, the Tribal Art Museum and a tribal festival at Bhubaneswar , Raghurajpur, an artist village, which is on UNESCO´s World Heritage list and the Konarak Natya Mandap, the Dance Academy of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan.
Our gain in awareness about India´s extraordinary cultural wealth and diversity together with our bringing more awareness about Auroville and its aims, ideals and achievements to India encouraged us to start planning for a Gujarat experience in 2012, in combination with our next AVI meeting in Auroville.
On coming back to Auroville we were only given half a day to recover from this intense trip. An overly full week started immediately after, with two days of Auroville International Board meetings and General Assembly, during which our new Chairman was elected. Julian Lines (AVI USA ), who has served for two consecutive periods of two years, had to step back due to the rules of our statutes. Martin Littlewood (AVI UK ), well known to many Aurovilians through his long-standing involvement with Auroville and AVI, has been elected as new Chairman. Julian will start office as Executive Director, Sonia Dyne (AVI UK ) and Christian Feuillette (AVI Canada) will remain Vice-Chairmen, Friederike Mühlhans (AVI Germany) will remain AVI Secretary.
The remaining days and hours of the week were completely booked for two afternoons of interaction with the International Zone group, meetings with WC and L'Avenir and a long and extremely interesting row of presentations by Auroville groups, services and initiatives, like Green Center, AVIS, Entry service, Guest service, Outreach Media, Housing group, Health Clinic, Sadhana Forest and others. Special mention deserves Joss who gave us an extremely interesting presentation of his Adyar Poonga project, which some of us could visit on our way back from Chennai airport. He also spoke about some other great projects he is involved with, for the restoration and sustainable development of the whole coastal strip between Chennai and Puducherry. (The full meeting report will be published soon and Auroville Today has chosen our AVI meeting and center activities as its main focus for the March issue).
We can only congratulate all the dedicated people engaged with this wealth of projects and initiatives! One observation we would like to share with the Auroville community: According to our experience the awareness about all the great and important projects Aurovilians are involved with is extremely low among their fellow citizens. So it might be a good idea to have a regular “community day” where Aurovilians get to know about other Aurovilians' activities, learning to appreciate more what a vibrant, extraordinarily rich community in terms of skills, dedication, inventiveness and spirit this is.
Thanks a lot to our Auroville friends for all their attention and kindness and also to our AVI representative Vani who untiringly managed to navigate us through another great Auroville experience!
Friederike (AVI Secretary)
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