International Women’s Day Celebrated in Roerich Estate
Celebrating the International Women’s Day has become a good tradition of the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT). On that day the IRMT opens its doors to first of all the women of Kullu giving them the opportunity to exhibit their art, deliberate on the role of women and their problems and just to feel the atmosphere of the women’s holiday.
This year Smt. Sushma Sharma, the newly elected president of the Gram Panchayat (the local governance body) was invited as the Chief Guest of the function, while Mrs. Alini Singh, Principal, John Wesley Public School, Naggar kindly consented to be the Guest of Honour.
The festivities started unusually late: at 3 pm, to enable the students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children, IRMT to complete their day at school. The guests of the function who included a considerable number of local women and female teachers from the John Wesley Public School proceeded to the Modern Art Exhibition Hall for the opening of the exhibition of paintings by Monica, Art and Crafts Teacher, John Wesley School, Naggar. Monica exhibited around twenty of her works, all acrylic on canvas. Largely a self-taught artist, she is particularly drawn to mountain landscapes. Her depictions of snow-capped peaks, waterfalls, sunset in the hills and mountain flora and fauna speaks volumes about her love of the Himalayas.
She also exhibited her hand-made pop-up cards and presented the Chief Guest and the IRMT management with her handmade bouquets of paper flowers inspired by origami: “Real flowers wilt fast, these will last forever.”
The Indian and Russian Curators of the IRMT welcomed the guests, sincerely congratulated them on the occasion of the International Women’s Day and welcomed them to the Seminar Hall for the subsequent programme.
The official part of the programme opened with the address of Mr. Ramesh Chander, Indian Curator, IRMT who spoke at length on the position of women in contemporary Indian society, the necessity to strengthen women and encourage their talents and artistic expression. Mr. Chander dwelled on the contribution of women to Indian and world culture. He said that the Government of India and State Governments are doing their best to strengthen their position but the society’s involvement in this initiative is the need of the hour.
Mrs. Larisa Surgina, Russian Curator, IRMT, spoke on the importance of woman in the light of the ideas of the Roerichs. She mentioned that since times immemorial woman’s beauty, love, wisdom, spiritual power and heroism led mankind along the path of evolution and development. She said that woman is destined to become a leader, but that will be possible only of she is honest and truthful, if she strives for knowledge and beauty and is capable of leading her male partner towards them. She spoke on the two great women of the Roerich family, Helena Roerich and Devika Rani, stressing their subtlety, spirituality, intelligence and education. These two beautiful women, asserted she, have become the symbols of both the Indo-Russian connection and the great spiritual destiny of woman. She finished her presentation quoting Helena Roerich’s words that every woman is a manifestation of the Great Feminine or the Mother of the World. Mrs. Surgina’s speech was accompanied by a slideshow.
The Chief Guest of the function Smt. Sushma Sharma started her short speech by paying homage to Nicholas Roerich. She thanked the IRMT management for organizing the International Women’s Day celebrations and expressed hope that it would become a tradition. She congratulated the female guests on the occasion and supported the practice of organizing shows by women artists.
The Guest of Honour Mrs. Alini Singh stressed the importance of the International Women’s Day as an example of the international recognition of women’s achievements. She traced the history of this holiday and underscored its international significance. Commenting on the problem of equality of women and men she made an interesting observation that from the very outset women are endowed with more qualities than men. It is women who have the power of creating life and this power is vested exclusively in them. She also appealed to men to show more appreciation to women for the big effort they make even in such prosaic tasks as keeping their houses neat and clean.
The programme continued with a number of items performed by the teachers and students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children, IRMT, Naggar. Accompanied by the Indian harmonium and tabla, the children performed a medley of popular Hindi songs dedicated to woman. A dance drama choreographed by the dance teacher of the Academy and dedicated to the persistent problem of violation of women’s rights in India became a veritable attraction of this part of the programme. The drama consisted of a series of episodes each depicting a particular aspect of violence against women: dowry extortion, alcoholism and domestic violence, female infanticide and molestation. In the last episode the demon personifying all the above social evils made an impressive entry. For the time being he triumphed gloating on his power but then the great Bharat Mata/Mother India crowned and armed with trident appeared on the stage and slew him dramatically trampling upon his prostrate body.
The cultural programme closed with poems and songs on women’s topics happily performed by the girls and women of Naggar.
After that the Russian guest of the programme Mr. Vladimir Nikishin, Art Scholar and Researcher with the Russian Academy of Arts, Moscow, presented the IRMT management with his beautifully illustrated latest publication The Image of Woman by Svetoslav Roerich, Novosibirsk, 2014.