Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

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22.10.2017

Autumn Festival “India-Russia-The Roerichs” in the Sacred Himalayan Roerich Estate

On October 7-9, the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT) celebrated the 143rd anniversary of the great Russian artist Maharshi Nicholas Roerich as part of the festival “India-Russia-the Roerichs” dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the International Roerich Memorial Trust and the 70th anniversary of Russian-Indian diplomatic relations. The guests of honour at the festival were Mr. Sergey Karmalito, Senior Counsellor, Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India, New Delhi, and Mr. Rakesh Sharma, Additional District Commissioner, Kullu. The members of the Forum of Indian Photographers and Artists (FIPA) headed by the FIPA president Mr. Vimal Mehta, a group of volunteers from the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR), Moscow, headed by Mrs. Tamara Merges, as well as numerous guests from India, Russia and other countries took part in the festivities.

 

The festival opened with the traditional Indian arts and crafts fair. The well-known craftswoman hailing from Chamba Mrs. Kamala Chadha offered to the attention of the public her famous rumals or scarfs with dual-sided embroidery. Ms. Sunita Bali, Design Consultant with the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, displayed the elegant dresses and accessories of her own design which masterfully blended traditional and contemporary motifs. The wall hangings created by the Kullu artist-cum-weaver Vishwanath Nair based on Nicholas Roerich’s paintings and the bright-coloured pictures by the Rajasthani artist Ram Swarup Rao depicting typical Rajasthani landscapes and genre scenes attracted particular attention of the visitors.

 

After the round of the fair, the guests were invited to attend the inauguration of the exhibition of children’s paintings “My Beloved Russia” brought from the Russian Federation by a group of ICR volunteers as part of the Children and Youth Cultural Festival of Russian-Indian Friendship “From Heart to Heart” and solemnly presented to the IRMT. The exhibition showcased the works by the children from different Russian cities – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kurgan, Krasnodar – that presented an affectionate view of Russian nature, the Russian people’s daily life with its traditional joyful celebrations. With great interest the young and old Indian guests of the festival studied the images of far-away Russia that has been India’s all-weather friend and reliable partner for many decades – to a great extent due to the efforts of the Roerichs themselves. The sacred Himalayan Roerich Estate also attests to the spiritual closeness of the two countries being the place of joint work of the Indian and Russian staff and the venue of exciting cultural events.

 

After the inauguration ceremony, the students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children (HRAA) managed by the IRMT, and the local schoolchildren enthusiastically carried on with the festival “From Heart to Heart” happily taking part in the traditional children’s painting competition, which took place in the same venue – in front of the Green Theater, IRMT. This year, the theme of the competition was “Kullu – the Valley of Gods.” The young participants of the competition put all their love of their native place and its traditions into their bright and picturesque works, which will later be transferred to Moscow to take part in the travelling exhibitions as part of the ongoing children’s festival of Russian-Indian friendship.

 

The first day of the festival closed on a pleasant and unexpected note. The Russian volunteers from the International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow, invited the painting competition participants to join the exciting “Tour of the Traditional Russian Games and Entertainments” accompanied by the Russian folk tunes and songs. With great excitement the children played, jostled, blew traditional Russian pipes, and explored the traditional Russian games including “Woman Weaver,” “Cover,” “Hit the Bull’s Eye,” “Pillow Fight,” and “Tug of War.” In conclusion, they joined in a circular dance and sang “Let There Always Be Sunshine” in different languages, after which they were presented with Russian souvenirs and sweet prizes. The HRAA teachers were extremely helpful in organizing this part of the programme.





The morning of October 8 started with the commemorative Shanti Puja in honour of Nicholas Roerich. As per tradition, the sacred ceremony took place in the vicinity of the rock where in 1947 the body of the great Russian artist, thinker, and scholar remembered in India as Maharshi or Great Saint was consigned to the flames. Every day the visitors from various countries, mainly from India and Russia, come here to honour his memory. And everyone who comes here, irrespective of their creed and origin, feels the special atmosphere of this memorial spot – the atmosphere of tranquility, wisdom, and unearthly grandeur...

In a symbolic act of unification and Culture, and as a reminder that Peace is possible only through Beauty, Knowledge and Love, the National Flags of India and Russia, and the Banner of Peace were solemnly hoisted in front of the Roerich House. In awe and high spirit, the guests of the festival made a round of the IRMT Exhibition Hall where opened the exhibition “Roerich Family – Connection Between Russians and Indians.” The exhibition displayed the paintings by Indian artists created in May 2017 at the art camp organized in Delhi by the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (RCSC) and the Forum of Indian Photographers and Artists (FIPA) on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the IRMT. In his welcome address to the guests of the inauguration ceremony, the president of FIPA Mr. Vimal Mehta mentioned the remarkable contribution of Nicholas Roerich and his family to world culture and noted the significant influence the Roerich heritage has been exercising on all aspects of Indian life and culture. He also remarked that Nicholas Roerich was justifiably called the first Russian Cultural Ambassador to India.

“The International Roerich Memorial Trust – the Centre of Friendship and Cooperation” was the title of the photographic exhibition dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the IRMT that opened in the Conference Hall. Mounting of displays, gardening, repairs of exhibition halls, treatment of museum objects, seminars and cultural programmes, activities of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children and the Cultural-Educational Centre, travelling exhibitions and art shows by contemporary artists – these and other glimpses of IRMT life faithfully recorded by camera gave good impression of the fruitful work of the close-knit multinational staff of the Trust and its numerous friends.

Opening of two permanent displays in the premises of ‘Urusvati’ Himalayan Research Institute became a truly significant event of the festival. In the Laboratory Building opened the Chemical Laboratory display showing authentic science equipment of 1930s used by the Roerichs and their associates in the research work they conducted in the Institute: ceramic crucibles, metal tripods, a thermostat, a gas-powered slide-projector, a kerosene fan, and various types of chemical glass equipment.

 

In the Laboratory Building, next to the halls housing the Himalayan Folk Art exhibition, the Russian Decorative and Applied Art display was inaugurated. The Russian beauties wearing colourful traditional sundresses welcomed the guests with joyful songs to the accompaniment of balalaika (all of them were actually the Russian volunteers from Moscow). To the first visitors of the exhibition they offered traditional Russian barankas (small hard bread ring similar to bagel) and gave them a brief guided tour. They drew the guests’ attention to the similarities of traditions, technologies and motifs used in the Russian and Himalayan applied arts – the fact Nicholas Roerich noted time and again in his essays.

 

The official programme that took place on the stage of the IRMT Green Theater opened with the welcome address by Mr. Ramesh Chander, Indian Curator, IRMT, and Mrs. Larisa Surgina, Russian Curator, IRMT, the lamp-lighting ceremony and honouring of the guests of the festival. The representative of the Russian diplomatic mission read out the welcome address to the organizers and participants of the festival by H.E. Mr. Nikolay Kudashev, Ambassador-designate of Russia to India. He also noted that during a quarter of a century of its existence the memorial complex-museum in the Roerich Estate became one of the major tourist attractions of Himachal Pradesh.

“This is the place where not only the connoisseurs of the scientific, philosophical and artistic heritage of the Roerichs seek to come,” pointed out Mr. Karmalito. “Every year the museum draws 100 thousand visitors from various countries.” He emphasized that “the IRMT was considered one of the most important projects of Russian-Indian humanitarian cooperation and both countries would like to see it turning into a world-class cultural and educational center.”

Mr. Rakesh Sharma, Additional Commissioner, Kullu, noted the considerable progress in the development of the IRMT over the past several years, which was achieved due to the joint effort of the Indian and Russian staff of the IRMT. On behalf of the Kullu District Administration, he promised to continue extending all possible help and support to the organization.




The International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow, also sent its greetings to the participants of the festival. “One cannot fail to notice the remarkable progress of the IRMT,” read the letter. “The International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow, is happy to contribute to this ongoing development process, which has been possible only due to the joint effort of the IRMT and ICR staff, the Kullu District Administration, the State Government of Himachal Pradesh, and the valuable support of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India and the Russian Center of Science and Culture, New Delhi.”

The official part closed with the award ceremony for the winners of the children’s painting competitions “The Banner of Peace in Space” and “Kullu – the Valley of Gods.”

  

The main performers at the cultural programme that followed were the students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children. The audience was absolutely delighted by the recital of the famous Russian dance “Kalinka-Malinka” accompanied by the Indian children singing in Russian.

For the first time ever in the history of the Roerich Estate the Odissi dance was performed by the professional danseuse Tejaswini Gautam.

ИAs per the good tradition, the festivities closed with the gay local merry-go-round “Nati” joined by all guests and participants of the festival “India-Russia-the Roerichs.”

The three-day festival closed on October 9, the birthday of Nicholas Roerich, with the academic seminar “Himalayan Roerich Estate – The Centre of Culture, Friendship and Cooperation.”

 





On the same memorable day, the meeting of the IRMT Executive Committee took place in Shimla. The meeting focused on the vital issues of the organization’s functioning and chalked out the strategy of its further development. The highlight of the event was the meeting with H.E. Virbhadra Singh, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh-cum- President, International Roerich Memorial Trust, who blessed the IRMT and wished it further development and prosperity.

The day of 9th October was marked by one more significant event: inauguration of the renovated building of Nicholas Roerich’s studio in Gungshel, close to Keylong, Lahaul and Spiti. This became possible due to the untiring efforts of the eminent Tibetan and Buddhist scholar from Lahaul Mr. Tsering Dorje who heads the Lahaul Roerich Society. The inauguration ceremony conducted in the traditional Lahauli style was attended by the representatives of the Russian Embassy in India and members of the Estonian Roerich societiy. The Roerichs spent several summer seasons in Lahaul in early 1930s and built a small studio for Nicholas Roerich to create his Himalayan landscapes.

 


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