Festivities on the occasion of the 138th anniversary of Helena Roerich in the IRMT
Festivities on the occasion of the 138th anniversary of Helena Roerich in the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT) started with the guided tour organized for the students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children managed by the IRMT. The children approached the House where Helena Roerich spent almost 20 years of her life, ascended the balcony of the 1st floor and peeped into her Study. At the window there is a writing table with a kerosene lamp, books and a bouquet of the narcissus flowers; behind it there is a high open bookcase on the sides of which are an elegant dressing table, a corner shelf and a big table with vertical mirror reflecting the snowy twin peaks of the Gepang, or the “M” mountain as Helena Roerich used to call it...
The visitors and the staff of the IRMT, the students and the teachers of the Children’s Academy of Arts assembled in the Conference Hall to the captivating tune of Chopin’s waltz. After the traditional ceremony of lighting the lamp and the Sarasvati Vandana – the prayer in song addressed to the Goddess of art and knowledge Sarasvati – the Russian Curator of the IRMT and the employee of the International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow, Larisa Surgina took floor for the welcome address. “Dear friends, we are happy to welcome you in the Himalayan Roerich Estate on Helena Roerich’s birthday,” she said to the guests. “The life of Helena Roerich in the Kullu valley was filled with creative work.Here she continued to cooperate with the spiritual Masters of India and write the teachings of the Living Ethics or Agni Yoga. In the Kullu valley Helena Roerich was directly involved in the foundation and activities of “Urusvati” Himalayan Research Institute, played active role in the drafting and promotion of the Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace, and maintained intensive correspondence. All the same, she continued to be the loving wife and loyal supporter of her husband and the caring and sensitive mother of her two sons, George and Svetoslav. And today this Himalayan Estate has truly become an Ashram, a spiritual focal point, a magnet drawing the people from all over the world.
“Her life in the Himalayas was full of hard daily creative work” – wrote Helena Roerich’s sons about her in 1956 after her demise. “All her day time and even much of her night were dedicated to this inner endeavor. It is difficult to even imagine the strain that was caused by this effort. To us and to everyone who came in close contact with her this spiritual interaction was, as it were, the living proof of the great and timeless truth. Her life was burning like a live torch being an example of a wonderful world existence, the awareness of which will lead the mankind to new achievements, new discoveries.”
The Indian Curator of the IRMT underscored that the Roerich Estate has particular importance for the development of the Indo-Russian relations. “One can feel particular closeness between Russia and India,” he said, “and we shall develop the cultural cooperation between our countries for which the Roerichs did so much.” Mr Chander also honoured the memory of the recently deceased Alexaner M. Kadakin, the Russian Ambassador to India, the Vice President and Life Trustee of the IRMT.
With the help of a slide show of archival photographs and paintings the Russian employee of the IRMT Alexander Pereverzev told the guests of the life and work of Helena Roerich, the remarkable Russian woman whose life was so closely connected with India.
The words of Helena Roerich “Through art you have the light” became the motto of the Children’s Academy of Art managed by the IRMT and having the name of Helena Roerich. On behalf of the young teachers of the Academy spoke the IRMT employee and the music teacher of the Academy Anshul Kumar. He noted that the Academy where children study the basics of art not only helps in preserving old Indian cultural traditions but also teaches the students the basics of ethics and morality, develop their sense of the beautiful, their interest and respect for the culture of other countries, first of all Russia. Students of the Academy eagerly learn Russian songs and dances, and discover the work of Russian artists – and not only Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerich. IRMT often conducts exhibitions of the Russian artists who gladly take master classes for the Academy students.
“The people like Helena Roerich do not belong to a single nation, country or religion,” said the Indian Curator of the IRMT Ramesh Chander in his address. “Their life is the source of inspiration for entire society, for everyone.” He noted that the philosophical teaching of Agni Yoga written down by Helena Roerich, first and foremost preaches humanity. We should be proud of our culture, but humanity, ethics and morality is something that should unite all of us. The main goal of each and every one of us is to become a Human Being. With their creative work the Roerichs proved that mankind has no borders.
The essay on Helena Roerich read out by the Puja Devi, one of the Academy students, was welcomed with applauds. The younger group headed by the dance teacher Mamta Thakur performed the classical Indian dance Kathak, while the Academy student Aditya Vardhan performed a solo dance. The festivities closed with the beautiful song The Forbidden Country solemnly and poignantly performed in Russian in honour of Helena Roerich by the teacher of vocal Pushpa Devi and the student Puja Devi:
But if you have a heart that’s pure,
You’ll hear a call, the guide that’s sure
And see the path between the snows
If you have a heart that’s pure...