Newsletter February 2006
Matrimandir at Night
Seen at night the Matrimandir has an especially powerful impact. It glows golden, illuminated by spotlights mounted in the tips of the 12 petals. It appears massive, still and pregnant with a hidden yet very palpable force. Around Matrimandir, the twelve upward rising petals at night appear black in silhouette and the image of this globe as a golden new world rising out of the broken open earth, symbolized by the petals, is clear and potent. In this image the Matrimandir symbolizes a new world, a new consciousness rising up to become visible and active in the world.
Matrimandir seen in the night this way, silvered on its top half by the light of a nearly full moon, combines a perfect stillness with the impression of an immense dynamism and creative force. At night one does not see the levels of scaffolding which still climb up three sides of Matrimandir….just one portion, the high tower on the west may be visible.
The gardens around are silent and lost in shadow.
Lights of the workshops illuminate sharply the outer boundaries of the gardens on the eastern edge. The Banyan tree, with its top silhouetted by the glow of the town of Pondicherry far to the south, is illuminated from below by a few lights reaching up into its towering branches.
The lights of the pathways to Matrimandir are still on. These and the other lights on the structure will switch off automatically later in the night: then this moment of magic will pass , or rather give way to the even deeper mystery of the night filled with just the dark silhouette of Matrimandir itself outlined against the far off sky glow.
Stillness is all around. In the distance one hears occasional sounds,- perhaps of dogs barking somewhere not far off. Music too comes through the night air….some notes from a village festival and some , with a different beat, from within Auroville.
The sound of crickets is every where, for the grasses and trees all around shelter a myriad of insect and small animal life. Only the crickets are active in this late evening air.
And farther off, in the East, can be heard the muted sound of the waves from the Bay of Bengal as they roll onto the beaches some 5 kilometers away.
Truly, one feels as if something is being born here, as if something has been born,- something of tremendous power and with an unfathomable end in view.
We are privileged to witness this birth, to share in the joy of its creation.
Compost and Grass
While work on the Matrimandir structure moves steadily ahead on its course for an intended completion at the end of this year, activity has picked up noticeably too in the gardens around Matrimandir.
In two of the gardens lie huge coils of irrigation pipes wrapped in white, just delivered as a first step in the project of installing the entire gardens water infrastructure. (described in our last newsletter.)
And, simultaneously, the “gardening” side of the gardens is laying its foundations in the building up of a massive effort to create high quality compost for all the living plants that will be needed here. Compost is described as the engine of the garden, that is, it provides the fuel and force to make everything grow at its best. It is also called ‘Black Gold' for its wealth of nutrients. Thus to create good compost is the best place from the practical point of view to start a garden project.
To make compost is not a very complicated process but the science behind it is quite different from merely letting things rot in a pile as one sees here quite often.
Briefly, the basic ingredients of compost are:(1) Nitrogen -fresh grass, cow manure (preferably made into a slurry), (2) Carbon (leaves, dried grass, hay, etc.), (3) Oxygen and ( 4) Water. When a compost pile is built according to the recommended proportions and percentages, it will heat up very rapidly, within 2-3 days. There are three stages of bacterial action and the hottest stage reaches temperatures of 140 degrees F. This is sufficient to kill weed seeds and pathogens but beneficial bacteria are only killed at temperatures of approximately 200 degrees F, so they are untouched.
In the outer park area of Matrimandir a large area that has sufficient shade has been devoted to this work and huge piles of leaves and grass are now being steadily converted into compost. Most of the fresh compost that is being produced is being used to help plant new varieties of drought resistant grasses for use on the petals and the outer edges of the 12 gardens around Matrimandir.
Until now, we have been using St. Augustine grass, native to the Gulf of Mexico region, the West Indies and Western Africa . But our enthusiastic gardener, Narad, has recently brought new, more drought resistant varieties such as Centipede, Tifton 10 and Tifway 419, all gifts from Dr. Wayne Hanna of the Agricultural Research Station ( University of Georgia ) in Tifton , Georgia . The ‘Tif' grasses are the latest selected hybrids in Dr. Hanna's 35 years of research on turf grasses. They are now being used extensively on golf courses throughout the world and are of considerably finer texture, have a much higher drought tolerance and are highly resistant to insects and disease.
Trial plots of these grasses have been established here over the last three months, and some are found to be doing very well indeed. Considering the size of the gardens, and the fact that water is a very precious resource here, it is of capital importance to use the grass variety that maintains itself in tip-top condition with the minimum of watering.
In the long run, there is great promise in these experimental developments, not only for Matrimandir, but for all of India .
Matrimandir Team Photo
In mid January, most of the Matrimandir team gathered together after morning tea time for this group photo on one of the twelve petals of Matrimandir. It was a rare feat to gather these 300 people from all over the working site to be together in one spot for this shot. Still, a couple of dozen did not make it to the spot on time!
It is worthy of note that a few of the people seen in this photo also appear in the very first group photo of Matrimandir workers, taken at the beginning of the construction in 1972 !
You can download the photo in high resolution:
Matrimandir Workers Group photo (Downloadable large file 1,07 Mb, .zip)
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