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Russian translation

Russian Cultural Pavilion

Foundation ceremony Feb '02

- based on a report by Ukrainian Lena, posted on Auroville's Intranet -

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..

Front row: Mrs Mia Berden of AVI Netherlands; Mrs Aster Patel of AV's International Zone; guest of honour, the near-centenarian Dimitri Sergeevich;  Mr Guy Rijckaerts of AV LandFund,  Mr. Anatoly P. Krikunov, the Consul General of Russia in Chennai  following the events..

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 ago.
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 are:

  • 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 Motherland.  


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