On October 9 the protected estate of the Roerichs in Naggar in the Western Himalayas saw the opening of the traditional Russian-Indian festival which took the shape of an unprecedented international cultural action of the International Roerichs Memorial Trust (IRMT).
The participation of Professor Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, H.E. Mr Alexander Kadakin, Ambassador of Russia to India, and H.E. Mr D.Kuanyshev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to India, prominent politicians, influential gurus, chiefs of state agencies as well as ensembles, musicians, dancers, masters of arts from India and abroad, speaks volume about the scale of the celebrations timed to the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Roerich Pact and 136th birthday of the outstanding Russian artist, thinker, scholar, and traveler. Representatives of Roerich societies from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the USA, Estonia, hundreds of Kullu residents, Indian and foreign tourists also joined the festivities.
Following the local custom, the festival opened with Shanti-pooja – the Prayer for Peace – at the memorial stone on the cremation ground of Nikolas Roerich in the shade of Himalayan deodars and Russian lime trees planted by the family of the person who was called in India a Maharishi – a great sage.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the festival in the Green Theater on the terraces of the Roerichs estate, H.E. Mr Alexander Kadakin, Ambassador of Russia to India, reminded the audience how 75 years ago the far-sighted humanistic project of Nicholas Roerich took shape. At that time a unique international document on protection of artistic and scientific institutions and historic monuments known as the Roerich Pact was signed.
«Probably here, in the legendary Gods’ Valley, in the heart of the greatest mountain chain in the world, the crucial role and magical power of Beauty and Harmony as major instruments for creating cultural heritage indispensable for development of human civilization, were revealed to Nikolas Roerich», stressed the Ambassador.
According to H.E. Mr Alexander Kadakin, Nicholas Roerich appealed to us in his all creative works to preserve this priceless heritage and cherish it for the sake of present and future generations. “We should remember his behest addressed to all of us, representatives of different countries and nations, speaking different languages, practising different religions”, he said. “In the absence of proper care of our cultural heritage we may doom ourselves to extinction just as the mighty deodars in the sacred copses would die if deprived of their roots”.
Professor P.K.Dhumal, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, stressed out that the inhabitants of the entire state are proud of the fact that “it is exactly here where the great Russian artist and outstanding humanist found his second home”. The name of Nikolas Roerich became synonymous with the Himalayas and a symbol of culture and spirituality of this mountainous land”, he said. Mr Dhumal highly appreciated the activities of the IRMT established in the early 1990s jointly with S.Roerich and the Embassy of Russia in India. He said that “the IRMT’s work helps to preserve the priceless heritage for mankind”. He backed the Russian Ambassador’s suggestion to found an International Academy of Arts under the aegis of the memorial complex and expressed the hope that “it might become a centre of attracting and discovering new bright talents among the youth and would probably give more roerichs to the world”.
H.E. Mr D.Kuanyshev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to India, expressed sincere gratitude for the invitation to this celebration and the opportunity to touch the places related to N.Roerich’s life and creative work. “The IRMT jointly with committed people from various countries carries out great work of preserving the cultural heritage of the eminent Russian family for coming generations”.
Guests of honor – Mr P.Sharma, director of the Department of Language, Art and Culture, Government of Himachal Pradesh, Amar Jyoti Yogiraj, well-known spiritual leader, Mr S.Kulkarni, prominent journalist and political analyst, and others – chorused in their speeches that the Roerich’s ideas are attracting now new followers in India and abroad. Mrs Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary, Government of India, a member of the Board of Trustees of the IRMT, noted in the welcoming address that “Roerich's heritage, much admired by leaders like Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, brought a closer understanding of Russia to the people of India, an appreciation of each other from the heart and soul”. The Indian diplomat assured the IRMT of all support of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The guests of the festival further saw a grand concert. The choreographic ensemble "Inspiration" from Temirtau (Kazakhstan) aroused enthusiasm and a storm of applauses among the audience. They performed dances of the peoples of the world, including Russian, Kazakh, Belorussian, Mexican, and Korean dances.
The audience also warmly welcomed young artists from the Montessori School (Manali), the Helena Roerich Art College under the IRMT and the boarding art school of traditional Tibetan iconography of Patlikuhl, as well as the folk ensemble from Kullu. Connoisseurs of Indian classical music truly enjoyed the acknowledged masters – brilliant flautist Rajendra Prasanna and virtuosic sitar performer Param Anand Bansal.
The festival also saw the opening of the exhibition of famous Russian artist Natalia Zaitseva-Borisova “From the treasures of the past to the stars of the future” which presented several cycles of works devoted to the monuments of ancient Russia, Nepal, South India, as well as landscapes of the Himalayas.