Maslenitsa (Butter or Pancake week) is traditional Russian holiday that dates back to the Pagan times. It has been celebrated in the capital of India for some years. Maslenitsa celebrations in the Jawaharlal Nehru University - one of the biggest in the country – is a special attraction for those who are anxious to get acquainted with Russian traditions. The idea of Russian Festival in JNU was suggested by Prof.Arun Mohanty, head of the Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies, and was wholeheartedly supported by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in India.
Students and teacher of the Embassy school, Russian compatriots and diplomats traditionally celebrate the “Farewell to Winter” Festival along with JNU students. This year the programme included performance by Russian students, traditional folk games, a lot of fun competitions: pillow battle, rope pulling, jumping in a sack and even skiing! The winners were decorated with special garlands of barankas (ring-shaped dry biscuits). JNU students took part in a quiz dedicated to the history and culture of Russia. Competent jury chose the best works and presented their authors with souvenirs.
An integral part of Maslenitsa is bliny (Russian pancakes), popularly taken to symbolize the sun. The participants of the Festival enjoyed delicious pancakes with honey, jam and condensed milk, finger-licking apple-pies, etc. The culmination of the Festival is usually the burning of the straw effigy of a lady, personifying the end of the cruel winter.
Another oldest Indian university – the University of Delhi – used to celebrate Russian Maslenitsa in the framework of annual Antardhvani Academic & Cultural Festival with the participation of all its schools and departments. One of the most interesting points of the function is multicultural exhibition “International Plaza” organized by DU international students. This year Russian stand displayed traditional souvenirs, periodical publications on Russian-Indian ties, hot pancakes and apple-pies. Students from Russia showcased information posters about the Great Patriotic War, distributed Saint George’s Ribbon and explained the meaning of this patriotic movement.