The ideal would be for every nation
with a well-defined culture to have a pavilion representing
that culture, built in a style that is most expressive of
the customs of the country; it will exhibit the nation's
most representative products, natural as well as manufactured,
and also a best expressions of its intellectual and artistic
genius and its spiritual tendencies...
Bread, salt and many friends
Quite a few people gathered on the bright,
clear morning in Auroville's International Zone when the
foundation stone ceremony for the Russian Cultural Pavilion
took place the 27th of February 2002, - an astrologically
significant day due to the full moon in Venus, i.e. good
for beginning projects..
I was pleasantly surprised to see so
many new Russian faces as well as those of friends whom
I know since years. Also Aurovilians of different origins
came to enjoy the event. Some of them have some Russian
blood in the family, or have spent time in Russian / Ukrainian
circles, or they were just plainly interested or otherwise
involved in the project that has been in the make for years
on end and now starts to happen...
When entering the site, we were greeted
in a traditional way by Aurovilian Svetlana who had, specially
for the occasion, hand-painted a white cotton dress with
traditional Russian patterns and decorations. Smilingly
she offered all participants 'karavai' and salt. By our
traditions, karavai, large round bread decorated with dough
ornaments, is thought to be a symbol of prosperity. Greeting
one's guests with bread and salt is both a sign of hospitality
and a sign of trust. And sharing bread with someone means
you will never become enemies.
Thank you, dear Dimitri Sergeevich!
The ceremony begun soon after arrival
of Dimitri von Mohrenschildt who came by car from the Ashram
in Pondicherry. Born in Russia, and American citizen since
1926 where he lectured as Professor in Russian Studies at
Stanford University, Dimitri Sergeevich will be 100 years
old in April of this year. He is a very good friend of Auroville
and its residents of the former USSR. It was Dimitri who
gave the first impetus and funding towards the Russian Pavilion
project some ten years ago.
"Thank you, dear Dimitri Sergeevich!" - everyone
who was present at the ceremony spoke these words..
A few short talks were given by Mr.
Anatoly P. Krikunov, the Consul General of Russia in Chennai;
by Mr. Bill Leon, president of Auroville International USA;
and by Valeri and Aleksej Kubarchuk, an Ukrainian father
and son of a family who joined Auroville quite some time
All speakers mentioned the growing friendship between Russia
and Auroville, its significance and meaning.
Black earth from the Yaroslavl region
Later on we gathered around the foundation
stone on the site marked for the main building of the Russian
Cultural Pavilion. The stone exists of a beautifully polished
granite slab with 'Russian Cultural Pavilion ' engraved
in it in both Russian and English. The stone had a neat
round little hole in it through which all participants slipped
some of Russia's earth into the Indian ground, after which
the hole was sealed with a stainless steel cover. The black
soil had been brought from the Yaroslavl region, from where
-many centuries ago- Russia drew its power and prosperity.
This land is situated in the northern part of Central Russia
surrounded by the magnificent Volga river.
Russian songs and sweets
After this, a young woman from the Baltics
who just happened to visit Auroville sang a few Russian
old romantic ballads in a very powerful and trained voice,
giving the main part of the ceremony for the Russian Cultural
Pavilion a beautiful finishing touch.
Once the official part of the ceremony
was over, people mingled, ate 'blini' (pancakes) which represent
the sun, drunk 'kisel' (a thick juice-like drink), exchanged
greetings, impressions, suggestions. Kids seemed to entertain
themselves rather nicely, and most of adults were just catching
up on the news about life.
Contacting the soul of Russia
Though there are about sixty Aurovilians
from the former USSR, we don't get to meet all together
very often, so this very occasion itself proved that the
original aims of Russian pavilion had begun working.. They
The Russian Cultural Pavilion aims
at establishing contact of the soul of Russia with Auroville.
In this sense it can be seen as an Embassy of the true
soul of Russia in Auroville
It will coordinate research done
in the field of understanding the true soul of Russia
It will be the centre of educational
and cultural activities in Auroville related to our