Svetoslav Roerich’s Anniversary Marked in International Roerich Memorial Trust
The closing day of the festival “The Roerichs’ Himalayan Estate – Karma-Bhumi of the Great Russian Family” in the IRMT was dedicated to the celebrations of the 114th birth anniversary of Svetoslav Roerich, the younger son of Nicholas and Helena Roerich, the outstanding artist, public figure, promoter of peace, and founder of two non-governmental organizations meant to preserve and promote the Roerichs’ heritage: the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR), Moscow, and the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT) located in the Himalayan Kullu valley.
The distinguished guests of the festivities on October 21, 2018 were His Excellency Mr. Nikolay Kudashev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India, and Mr. Sunny Sharma, Assistant Commissioner to Deputy Commissioner, Kullu. The guests took part in the solemn ceremony of hoisting the national flags of India and Russia, and the Banner of Peace. In accordance with the established tradition, the Banner of Peace, or the Banner of Culture as Nicholas Roerich called it, was jointly hoisted by the Indian Curator of the IRMT Ramesh Chander and the Russian Curator of the IRMT Larisa Surgina who is working in the IRMT on deputation from ICR. The ceremony was joined by the young artistes and the leadership of the Children’s Choreographic Ensemble-Studio ‘Otrada’ from Russia that visited the Kullu valley in connection with the festivities.
“From the Rhythms of Time to the Treasures of Space” was the name of the exhibition inaugurated on that day in the IRMT Exhibition Hall. It displayed the works by Russian children who participated in the international children’s painting competition conducted annually by the Dostoyaniye Foundation headed by Natalya Pivovarova. The participants of the competition who visited India with the children’s Himalayan expeditions attempted to depict their impressions of this land that they came to love so much. Their paintings show amazing Indian temples, its colourful nature and people. As was noted by Alexei Melnikov, Honoured Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation; Director, Art School, Mga, Leningrad Region (Russia), and the teacher of the same school Natalya Melnikova, in their art the children speak of true values, and friendship among peoples and cultures.
Inauguration of the recently restored painting Landscape by Svetoslav Roerich in the Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerich Art Gallery on the ground floor of the Roerich House became an important event of the programme. Prior to that, due to its condition, the painting was kept in one of the rooms on the first floor of the House. The restoration works started in October 2017 when restorers Ilmira Faridonova and Elvira Prokofyeva came to the IRMT on deputation from ICR, Moscow for the examination and treatment of the paintings by the Roerichs. The works continued in May-June and then in October 2018, and on October 21, the Landscape, by then “cured” and mounted in frame brought specially from Moscow, joined the display in the Svetoslav Roerich Hall.
As per tradition, the programme continued at the Green Theatre, IRMT. The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India Mr. Nikolay Kudashev addressed the gathering with welcome remarks.
The song dedicated to the Roerichs, as well as the old traditional song of the Kullu valley, was presented by the traditional Kullu folk singer from Naggar Anita Dewi. She won everyone’s heart with the beauty of her voice and expressiveness of performance.
Mr. Sunny Sharma welcomed the guests on behalf of the Kullu District administration. He remarked that such events as the celebrations of Svetoslav Roerich’s anniversary were not only an occasion to celebrate the legacy of the Roerichs, but also an opportunity for children and artists to display their art, and a reminder of the profound and cordial connections between Indians and Russians. Mr. Sharma noted that in terms of culture Kullu was one of the richest districts of the state. This is due to the presence there of the Indian, Russian, Tibetan and Buddhist cultures, and the Russian flavour only adds to its beauty.
Mr. Sharma stressed that the Roerichs’ heritage is not limited to the Kullu valley. He requested the guests to pay attention to the place called Gungshel, in Lahaul, where the reconstructed studio of Nicholas Roerich is located, and find ways to hold exhibitions and other cultural events there in order to preserve and develop this memorial site as part of the heritage of the Roerichs. In conclusion of his speech, the AC to DC reassured the audience as regards the commitment of the Kullu District administration and the State Government of Himachal Pradesh to the preservation and protection of the Roerichs’ heritage.
On behalf of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (RCSC), New Delhi, the guests were welcomed by Tatyana Perova, Head, Russian Language Teachers Training Centre, RCSC. Mrs. Perova solemnly presented to the IRMT library a number of artist’s editions, as well as study materials for the foreigners learning Russian. Accepting the valuable gift, the Russian Curator of the IRMT Larisa Surgina expressed hope that in the nearest future with the support of the RCSC the Russian language will be taught in the IRMT Cultural-Educational Centre.
Next, the students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children who got positions in the International children’s painting competition “The Banner of Peace in Space” whose main organizers were the Russian Peoples’ Friendship University, Moscow, and the Cosmonautics Federation of Russia, were invited on stage. Mr. Sunny Sharma solemnly presented the young artists with the certificates and medals embossed with space symbols that were brought from Moscow.
On the completion of the official part of the festivities, the IRMT employee and the music teacher of the Academy Anshul Kumar announced the beginning of cultural programme. The students and teachers of the Academy happily presented to the dear guests the music items specially prepared for the occasion. The teacher of vocal Pushpa Dewi sang a song with the lyrics by the renowned Indian Sufi poet and musician Amir Khusro. On tabla, she was accompanied by the tabla teacher Anup Kumar. Specially for the guests of the festival, the students of the Academy preformed a dance composition on the infancy of Krishna that had proved so popular with the audience and choreographed by the dance teacher Mamta Thakur.
The exhibition of rumals, the traditional two-sided embroidery of the Chamba valley, presented by the craftswoman Kamala Chadha, Teacher, Himachal Pradesh State Handicraft and Handloom Corporation, Shimla, aroused a great interest of the guests. Her embroidered paintings on traditional subjects including scenes from the lives of Krishna and Durga, the images of Ganesha and Shiva, and the gaddi shepherds are true pieces of art.
He noted that the museum complex in Naggar had blossomed into an appealing tourist spot of North India and become a beacon for true admirers of cultural, historic, scientific and spiritual heritage of the Roerichs. It had also transformed into a source of knowledge bringing the local children the mastery of fine arts, classical dance and music. “I believe,” stated Mr. Ambassador, “that by joint efforts we will succeed in further developing the Roerich Estate into an excellent museum complex, a cultural, educational and research center that would match the highest international standards and attract people from all over the world because the Roerichs’ legacy belongs not only to Russia and India but to the whole mankind.”
The performance by the Children’s Choreographic Ensemble-Studio ‘Otrada’ from Chita (Russia), the winner of many Russian and international competitions, headed by Alexander Avdeyev, Honoured Art Worker of the Russian Federation, and Soloist, ‘Zabaikalye’ Ensemble (Choreographer: Tatyana Avdeyeva) was a real treat for the guests and participants of the festival, and the local residents. The artistes visited India as part of the 9th Children’s Himalayan Expedition organized by the Dostoyaniye Foundation with the support of the Russian Embassy in India and the Russian Centre of Science and Culture, New Delhi, as well as the Kullu District administration and personally Mr. Yunus, Deputy Commissioner, Kullu. On October 19, two days before their performance in the IRMT, the ensemble took part in the inauguration of Dusserah festivities in Kullu town, but the full version of their programme was preserved specially for the festival in the Himalayan Roerich Estate.
Colourful costumes, Russian folk dances, songs and roundelays performed by the young artistes, Cossack songs reaching one’s very heart with their lyrics and tunes, as well as the performances by Indian artistes – children and adults – were met by a burst of applause and expression of sincere gratitude from the guests, whether Russian, Indian, Dutch or French. True art rises above borders uniting our hearts and souls in a single aspiration towards creativity, friendship and beauty.
The Russian-Indian festival celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Roerichs’ settling in Kullu has come to an end. But the joint effort for the development of museum and scientific complex of the Roerich Estate and ‘Urusvati’ Himalayan Research Institute continues. It is noteworthy in this regard that installation of museum lights in the premises of the Institute was timed to the October festival (the grant was allocated by the State Government of Himachal Pradesh). The IRMT and ICR staff covered the hanging system in the Laboratory Building of the Institute with decorative planks which significantly enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the display halls there. With the help of volunteers, the display of Russian decorative and applied art is being constantly enriched. Apart from performing conservation works on the paintings, the paintings restorer Ilmira Faridonova completed the schematic map of the ‘Urusvati’ Himalayan Research Institute expeditions on the walls of the Administrative Building of the Institute with picturesque landscapes (the work on the map was started in spring, 2018). The botanists from the Main Moscow Botanical Garden of the Russian Academy of Sciences continue working with the herbarium collection of the Institute. The study of the manuscripts and medical collections of the Institute, and other activities are under way.
All these activities to preserve and promote the Roerich heritage and revive ‘Urusvati’ Institute are undertaken in the Roerich Estate by the staff of the International Roerich Memorial Trust and the International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow, as was the dream of Svetoslav Roerich. They continue with the support of the Kullu District administration and the State Government of Himachal Pradesh, with the assistance of the ICR, Moscow, Russian Embassy in India and the Russian Centre of Science and Culture, New Delhi, and with the help of volunteers coming from various cities of Russia, Belarus, and other countries.
Thus, in joint celebrations and work for the preservation and promotion of the Roerichs’ heritage, the interaction and cooperation between the people of India and Russia is being constantly strengthened.
The distinguished guests solemnly removed the white silk khadak covering the canvas, and the audience beheld the pearly cloudy sky rising above the Himalayan summits, the smooth lines of the clouds, the soft and, in places, contrasting colour combinations, and the sense of mystery that this misty mountain country hides...