Auroville Festival in Russia – a report
In August a small team of Aurovilians were in Russia as a part of festival of Auroville in Ethnomir. Founded in 2006 Ethnormir is an 84-hectare cultural complex 90 kms west of Moscow in the Borovsky district of Kaluga Region. ( http://ethnomir.ru/ )
Designed in the form of honey comb pattern, Ethnomir will have 52 cultural centres of different countries - an idea that is very close to the idea of International Zone of Auroville.
Yurts in Ethnomir
A row of Tipis
Ethnomir has organised programmes highlighting several nomadic cultures since 2006. It has traditional ethnic dwellings - around 40 'yurts' from Tibet , Mongolia , Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan and Tuva, and 'tipi' of North American Indians. Ethnomir is supported by the Russian Commission for Unesco , Russia 's Education and Science Ministry, and the Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications. The construction of a Russian House began in 2007, and there are plans to build Japanese, Chinese and Australian centres there.
The idea of a festival of Auroville in Ethnomir sprouted when Ruslan Bairamov, the president of the Dialogue of Cultures-United World Fund, which has founded Ethnomir visited Auroville in 2005. The idea grew and eventually he combined the festival with the beginning of the construction of ‘India House' the cultural centre of India in Ethnomir. The Auroville team composed of 6 nationalities was representing Auroville as well as India !
The Auroville team
Saraswati, a Rusian Aurovilian, was the coordinator in Auroville who contacted various aurovilians, organized meetings, done all the correspondence and background work for the trip to Russia . The Auroville team comprising Ananda Reddy from Ashram, Frederick, Johnny, Joss, Ludmila, Manoj, Namah, Oleg, Saraswati and her daughter Masha, Sergei, Shivaya, Tanya and Uma, arrived in Moscow on 12th of August.
They were hosted in hotel Romashkovo, one the of hotels of Ruslan the founder of Ethnomir, in the outskirts of Moscow .
Presentation in the Indian Embassy
Ethnomir team had organized a presentation of Auroville and Ethnomir in the Indian Embassy in Moscow on 13th of August. First a film on Auroville, ‘Auroville A Dream' was shown followed by short presentations on various topics.
Frederick, playing the role of the elder, gave the opening talk on Auroville followed by Ananda Reddy who spoke about the philosophical dimension. Joss gave a slideshow on the greening of Auroville and the work of Pitchandikulam Bio Resource Centre followed by Shivaya's presentation on the Economy of Auroville. The work of Upasana Design Studio was presentation by Uma and Manoj. Sergei played the role of translator and all the while Johny in his Fertile attire sat silently as an enigmatic presence deepening the mystery of Auroville.
Different species from Auroville in the Embassy
The presentation of Auroville was followed by the presentation on Ethnomir.
Nearly 200 people attended the function and the Embassy ran out of snacks – a sign that more people than expected turned up there!
India House in Ethnomir
The Auroville delegation arrived in Ethnomir on 16th of August for the foundation laying ceremony of the India House. This event was attended by many government officials and followed by cultural programs. Dr. Ananda Reddy played the role of chief priest who guided the stone laying ceremony starting with Vedic chants by Uma and Manoj. Blessing packets were placed in the foundation and nine granite blocks were placed around it by various officials, and on behalf of Auroville Frederick and Masha placed one of the stones. People who gathered for the function showered flower petals over the stone and Many speeches followed. A sculpted lotus was presented to Ethnomir on behalf of Auroville by Frederick .
Ananda leading the ceremony
"What we want is to familiarize young Russians with other cultures. We believe it is good for young people's mentality. India has become much closer now," said Borovsky District head Viktor Ternikov. Igor Soldatenkov, a Merited Artist of Russia and chairman of the Kaluga governor's Council on Culture, said many Russians who had never been to India would be able to learn a great deal about that country at the centre.
Ramesh Chandra, Counsellor (Information), Embassy of India, expressed the hope that Indian House would further strengthen Indian-Russian friendship.
The construction, planned by architect Koushal Choudhry, is to be completed in 2009, officially announced as the year of India in Russia .
The centre will include an exhibition hall, a yoga hall, an Ayurvedic medicine room, an Indian restaurant and a guest house. The architect's design includes eight rooms, each representing one of India 's different ethnic and cultural regions. The materials for the interior decoration will be brought from India .
The Indian House will be a miniature India inside Russia ; Russians will have a chance of getting a taste of Indian culture without leaving Russia according to Ruslan Bairamov.
The architect of India House, Koshal Choudhry, architect and an artist who had presented his works in Auroville last year. In the back back ground is a digital rendering of the India House
Auroville festival in Ethnomir
From 17th to 19th was the festival of Auroville in Ethnomir. Nearly 150 people, mostly young, participated in the festival that covered a wider range of activities. Various programs were running parallel in four venues from morning till evening. The 108 Suryanamaskara, asanas and concentration, guided meditations, Kho-kho, Kabadi, Vedic chanting, singing, meditation and painting, play, video shows, capsule making, theatre sports, handicraft workshops, natural jewelry workshop, medicinal plant excursion, and various talks on Auroville, Integral yoga, Human Unity and International Zone, greening Auroville, business in Auroville, architecture, design , Idian textiles, inner journey, new forms of education, evolutionary process, design for social responsibility etc covered a good spectrum of activities that a handful of Aurovilians could offer in Ethnomir.
Johny and the Capsule
One of the highlight of the Auroville festival in Ethnomir was the building of a capsule in the campus where Johnny led the Russians through the mystery of the capsule's sacred geometry.
In a number of group discussion we all expressed our hope that this is just the beginning of a more lasting connection between Russia and Auroville. We like to see that the effort to get the Pavilion for all the former "soviet states", whatever you might call it, in Auroville finally materialized and Ruslan has offered his energy and help towards this and equally that an AVI is established in Moscow. Ruslan is quite ready to organize this and needs an Auroville liaison person in Moscow , who is full time looking after the AVI activities. We met a number of potential candidates for this work.
The hospitality and energy in Russia was quite overwhelming and there is great potential for mutual enrichment from so much good-will.