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Second Day of the Traditional Spring Culture Festival in the IRMT

The second day of the spring festival in the Himalayan Roerich Estate coincided with the International Workers’ Day (May 1) and Orthodox Easter. It started with the traditional Shanti Puja conducted near the Roerich House under the memorable Himalayan pine where the ancient stone images of the Gods and Guardians of the Kullu Valley are collected. The guests from Russia, India, Greece and Ukraine assembled around the holy fire and repeated after Ven. Jaidev Acharya, Pujari from the old Krishna temple the words of prayer for the Roerichs and for peace in the world, or, to be more precise, in all worlds...

The artist is a consummate master of the brush equally at ease with oil, gouache, watercolour and pastel, although of late she has preferred tempera. Her works are found in the museums and private collections in Russia, Poland, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Estonia, Lithuania, India and Nepal.    

“The humanistic ideas of the Roerichs, most importantly the ideas of the Roerich Pact, inspire all mankind including cosmonauts” – mentioned in her speech Mrs. Natalya Cherkashina. In 1990 cosmonauts A. Balandin and A. Soloviev raised the Banner of Peace over the planet. In 1997 the project was launched.

“The Indian Council for Cultural Relations will be glad to extend support to the IRMT in conducting various activities meant to deepen the friendship and understanding between Russia and India” – noted Director General of the Council Mr. C. Rajasekhar. “There can be different formats of this cooperation: from exchange of delegations to organizing joint events.”

Students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Art for Children functioning under the aegis of the IRMT together with the students of the Tibetan School in Patlikuhl entertained the guests from Russian, India, Greece, Estonia, Italy and other countries with a big cultural programme comprising various dance, music and vocal items.  The programme was anchored by the IRMT employee and music teacher of the Helena Roerich Academy of Art for Children, Naggar, Anshul Kumar and Mrs. Tatyana Kutinova, Attache (Press), Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India.

The Indian classical dance Kathak performed by the youngest students of the Academy, the traditional Tibetan dance Sholsom Ming, the medley of folk songs and dances from the different regions of Himachal Pradesh, the Russian song by Tatyana and Sergei Levin “Beyond the Crystal Mount”, the masculine dance from the film Jodha Akbar and the Tibetan love song performed by young singers drew loud applauds from the audience and became a wonderful closure of the Kullu spring festival that proved right the words of Nicholas Roerich: “Art is the heart of people. Knowledge is the brain of people. Only through heart and wisdom humanity can unite and understand each other.” 

From their part, the Russian and Indian Curators of the IRMT presented to Mrs. Cherkashina and Mr. Sergei V. Karmalito, Senior Counsellor, Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India, paintings of the children participants of the International Children’s Paintings Competition “Banner of Peace in Space” for transfer to Competition Organizing Committee in Moscow. The Competition project “Banner of Peace in Space” was launched in Moscow in 2015. It was organized by the Children’ Creativity Center “Vorobyovy Gory” and the Federal Space Agency “Roscosmos”. This year, on the proposal of the competition organizers and with the support of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in India, Indian children including the students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children, IRMT and the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Patlikuhl will take part in the competition. The best works will then be sent to Space to the International Space Station where cosmonauts will determine the winners.

The culture festival in Naggar drew guests from different countries. Floor was given to Mrs. Maria Karastergiou, PhD in Education and the member of the Agni Yoga Hellas Association, Athens, Greece. Mrs. Karastergiou. Mrs. Karastergiou spoke on the history and activities of the Association she represented. It was set up 15 years ago to promote the Living Ethics or Agni Yoga and implement its ideas in the field of education and psychology. Agni Yoga, Mrs. Karasterrgiou averred, is a profound message of purification that is of utmost value in the context of today’s crisis triggered by the lack of spirituality. She also predicted a bright future for Agni Yoga as a teaching which will certainly have mass following in the world which is essentially borderless.

The holy rite was followed by the ceremony of hoisting the Indian and Russian national flags and the Banner of Peace in front of the Roerich House. It was attended by the Mr. Alexander M. Kadakin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India and Vice President and founder of the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Mr. Hans Raj Chauhan, District Commissioner, Kullu-cum-Director, International Roerich Memorial Trust, Mr. Chintapally Rajasekhar, Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Mrs. Natalya Cherkashina, Acting Director, Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, Moscow, International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow, Mrs. Inga M. Mamaladze, Member, International Roerichs’ Heritage Preservation Committee, Moscow.

The opening of the painting exhibition The Holy Himalayas: Sketches from the Journeys by the Russian artist Natalya Zaitseva-Borisova in the Modern Art Exhibition Hall, IRMT, became an important part of the programme. The exhibition displayed 30 works created by the artist during the last year she spent travelling in Nepal, Spiti, and Ladakh. Rocks and snowy peaks, vigorous mountain rivers and expanding clouds, mysterious caves and Buddhist stupas come to life in her canvases inspired by the art of Nicholas Roeirch.

In his welcome address to the participants of the festival, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India Mr. Alexander M. Kadakin remarked that in almost quarter of a century the Roerich Estate museum complex had become one of the most vibrant and attractive tourist sites of Himachal Pradesh. “Not only the connoisseurs of the scientific, philosophical and artistic heritage of this remarkable family wish to come here” – he noted – “Every year one hundred thousand guests from different countries visit the museum.” “We consider IRMT one of the most important projects of the Indo-Russian humanitarian cooperation, and together we aim at turning it into world-class cultural-educational center” – he stressed. Mr. Alexander M. Kadakin presented to the International Roerich Memorial Trust for exhibiting in the museum three Buddhist thangkas painted in Buryatia. 

“Residents of the Kullu Valley are grateful to the Russian friends for the fact that since many years the arrival of spring in this region is associated with the festival in the Roerich Estate” – mentioned Mr. Hans Raj Chauhan. He noted that the significance of the Roerichs’ heritage and their contribution to the world culture is beyond space and time, and promised to actively support the IRMT activities. Mr. Chauhan also expressed his appreciation of the achievements of the Helena Roerich Academy of Art for Children, IRMT, Naggar.

In a solemn ceremony Mrs. Cherkashina presented to the IRMT the copy of the Banner of Peace that travelled to Space. The Banner bears the stamp of the Mir International Space Station and the signatures of cosmonauts. She also presented to the IRMT the photographic exhibition Banner of Peace in Space developed by the International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow specially for the International Roerich Memorial Trust, Naggar. The exhibition was opened in the Green Theatre ground, IRMT.

The official part of the programme started with the traditional lighting of the lamp and the prayer to Sarasvati performed by the students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Art for Children. Mrs. Larisa Surgina and Mr. Ramesh Chander, the Russian and Indian Curators of the IRMT respectively, addressed the guests with words of welcome. They noted that the coordinated effort of the Russian and Indian employees of the Trust with the support of the Himachal Pradesh Government and the Kullu District administration, with the participation of the Embassy of the Russian Federation and the International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow, was yielding positive results. Recently new exhibitions have been opened in the IRMT, and museum premises and offices repaired. Lighting system had been installed. The Chemical Conservation Laboratory for conservation and restoration of museum items, books and documents had been supplied with new equipment. To enhance the security system all over the IRMT territory a new video surveillance system has been installed. The Helena Roerich Academy of Art for Children has been growing and maturing. The new Cultural-Educational Centre comprising Computer Room and Reading Room has been opened. However, the IRMT has major objectives that can be achieved only due to joint efforts of Russia and India.