Indian civilisation has been the form and expression of a culture as great as any of the historic civilisations of mankind, great in religion, great in philosophy, great in science, great in thought of many kinds, great in literature, art and poetry, great in the organisation of society and politics, great in craft and trade and commerce. -Sri Aurobindo
The 9th Pondicherry Heritage Festival (PHF) continued to celebrate the heritage of this extraordinary town and its environs, in all its aspects: Natural, Spiritual, Cultural and Architectural from 1st February-15th March, 2023. Theme of this year’s festival focussed on ‘Responsible Tourism.’ The program was jointly organized by Pondicherry People’s Heritage, INTACH, PondyCAN, Department of Tourism, Government of Puducherry, Sri Aurobindo Society and many other partnering institutions. Pondicherry Heritage Festival Press Meet was held on 25th January at Alliance Française de Pondichéry.
As part of the festive celebration, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society organized many events including workshop Vedic Chanting: Intangible Culture, Tradition and Continuity; Symposium: Sri Aurobindo on Indian Cultural Heritage and Celebrating 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo and 75 years of India’s independence – An exhibition on the unsung heroes of Pondicherry; panel discussion on Measuring Women’s Contribution to Culture- Key Factors for Achieving Sustainable Growth, symposium on Tamil Heritage: Linguistics, Cultural and Socio-economic advancement, Cultural Heritage Conservation & Sustainability with Reference to Pondicherry, lecture on India from Maritime Perspectives and creative expressions program in the field of Visual and Performing Arts.
Celebration of the 150th year of the Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo
As a mark of celebrating the completion of 75th year of India’s Independence, 150th year of the birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, a symposium on ‘Sri Aurobindo on Indian Cultural Heritage’ was organized on 28th Feb, 2023. Smt. S. Chandira Priyanga, Hon'ble Minister for Art & Culture, Government of Puducherry graced the occasion as Chief Guest. She said that Sri Aurobindo played an important role in the Indian Revolutionary Movement. She also emphasized on Tamil Heritage including culture, traditions, arts, and social platforms, which is a unique contribution to the world. Sri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry said that Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation of the Foundation of Indian Culture is based on the true spirit of Indian culture, the shapes and forms of tradition and continuity, its findings in science, creativity in art, poetry, and aesthetics. Mrs. SunainaMandeen, Co-Founder, PHF, PPF and PondyCAN, spoke about the glorious journey of the 9th edition of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival. Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati said that Sri Aurobindo has given deeper insights to rediscover the spirit of Indian culture. Sri Aurobindo the Yogi, a great Indian scholar, litterateur, philosopher, patriot, social reformer, and visionary, was also a prominent religious guru who gave the message of human unity and propounded the philosophy of divine life. Eminent speakers including Shri Lalit Verma, Dr.Beloo Mehra, Ms. Lakshmi Jyoti & Dr. Shruti Bidwaikar spoke on Sharing heritage, Fundamentals of Sanatana Dharma in the Light of Sri Aurobindo, Life and Spirituality: The Indian View & Unity in Indian Art.
On this occasion, an Exhibition on the theme ‘Celebrating 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo and 75 years of India’s independence – An exhibition on the unsung heroes of Pondicherry’ was organized by AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archive, INTACH, Pondicherry Chapter, Department of Tourism, Govt. of Puducherry, French Institute of Pondicherry and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Ministry of Culture. Rare collections of photographs on important aspects of India’s freedom movement, life and activity of Sri Aurobindo and the unsung heroes of Pondicherry were displayed at the exhibition.
Vedic Chanting: Intangible Culture, Tradition and Continuity
Workshop and Demonstration on Vedic Chanting: Intangible Culture, Tradition and Continuity at Matriniketan, Centre for Integral Yoga & Indian Culture, on 10th Feb., 2023. Objective of this workshop was to focus on Vedic Chanting as Intangible Cultural Heritage and one of the world’s oldest surviving cultural traditions followed by an interactive session to understand and experience about Vedic chanting. The session was facilitated by Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy. He informed about the two-fold application of the Vedic tradition, including Shastra & Prayoga. Aspects of Vedic chanting including, traditional, contemporary and living, oral tradition, inclusive nature, representative, community-based approach and international recognition were discussed. Significant aspects of the Vedas, including history, origin of the Mantras, textual structure and interpretation of the Mantras followed by different methods etc. were also discussed during the workshop through an interactive manner. Students from Vedasharama Gurukulam recited many Suktas from the Vedas. The workshop was attended by approximately twenty-five participants from Puducherry, Tamilnadu, Andhrapradesh, USA, Canada and France. This creative expression program was organized at Matriniketan- Centre for Indian Culture & Integral Yoga, a grand heritage building in Puducherry, Matriniketan with its marvellous sea view has been restored to its traditional historic deco art style of ornamental geometric elements. It houses a unique fusion of French and Tamil architectural styles.
Cultural Heritage Conservation & Sustainability with Reference to Pondicherry
As part of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society organized a symposium ‘Cultural Heritage Conservation & Sustainability with Reference to Pondicherry’ on 23/2/2023 at Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry. Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Dr.Nallam Satish, Président, Alliance Française de Pondichéry and Dr. Dominic Goodall, Head, École françaised'Extrême-Orient, Pondicherry graced the occasion. Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society said that Cultural Heritage includes both the form of culture Tangible and Intangible. Pondicherry is also called the French Riviera of the East after the advent of French colonization in India. He emphasized on the development of policy for the conservation of Cultural Heritage which is an unique factor for the preservation of heritage. Dr.Nallam Satish, Président, Alliance Française de Pondichéry said that Cultural Heritage Conservation refers to the sustainable measures taken to extend the life of a cultural heritage which a unique heritage message and value. Puducherry has a very rich and diverse cultural heritage, where the culture impacts several traditions which were merged to form a culture in itself. There is a need to undertake sustainable measures for the conservation of cultural and natural heritage with special emphasis on Wellness Tourism.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry referred Maharshi Aurobindo’s vision ‘Pondicherry is my place of retreat, my cave of tapasya- not of the ascetic kind, but of a brand of my own invention.’ As far as the cultural heritage of Puducherry is concerned it represents the unique features of different forms of heritage including oral tradition, festive celebrations, built heritage, archival collection, natural and eco-cultural heritage. Dr. Dominic Goodall, Head, École françaised' Extrême-Orient, Pondicherry spoke about the inscriptions found in Pondicherry and Karaikal spanning from the 9th to 19th centuries. These inscriptions present the glorious history of the land and its culture with special emphasis on the historical references and majority of them are written in Tamil, but Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, Latin and French are also represented. Scholars representing various institutions spoke on important aspects of Cultural Heritage Conservation of Puducherry. Eminent speakers representing various institutions, Dr.Ravichandirane P., Assistant Professor, Department of History, Tagore Government Arts & Science College, Puducherry; Shri Ashok Panda, Co-convener, INTACH, Pondicherry Chapter, Puducherry; Dr. Geeta Auropremi, Former M.D. (Ayurveda), Gujarat; Dr.Gobardhan Sahoo, Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, School of Life Sciences, Pondicherry University; Shri Raghunath T.P, Director, Svarnim Puducherry, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry and Mr. G. Earnest Paul, SARVAM Access Program Trainer & Assistant Professor Tagore Government spoke on various topics focusing on the cultural and natural heritage of Pondicherry.
Creative Expression program for school and college students
AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, People for Pondicherry's Heritage & Pondicherry Rivage Ladies Circle organized a creative expressions program in the visual and performing arts. Objective of this program was to explore the inner spirit of visual arts through the message, meaning and emotions through visual means. This program included different competitions for students from schools and colleges in the areas of Visual arts, including photography, Youtube Short, Instagram Reels, Ad Selfie, & Short films. Fifty students representing different schools and colleges of Pondicherry participated in this competition and presented their creative works on different themes including colours of water bodies, natural shades of light (angles) of historic places, sustainable tourism, flora (plants and trees) and fauna (animals and birds), day well spent with your old aged relatives, promoting the ideas and ideals of heritage of Pondicherry, ad selfie with heritage buildings / water bodies, accessible and sensitive tourism/sustainable tourism. Creative expression program in music and instrumental was organized on 15th February, 2023. Objective of this program was focussed on singing and instrumental competitions for the students in classical and non-classical music and Taala, Swara and Band. Sixty solo numbers and forty group performances were organized by the students from different colleges and schools. Thirty Teams representing different schools and colleges presented wonderful performances on Swara, Taala and Band. As part of this initiative, Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, and Charu Tripathy, Associate Director, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society were invited to attend the creative expression program at Alliance Francaise on Fine Arts & Performing Arts.
India from Maritime Perspectives
On the occasion of Pondicherry Heritage Festival/Water Festival, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society in collaboration with Svarnim Puducherry & Pondicherry University organized a special lecture on ‘India from Maritime Perspectives’ on 20th February, 2023. The speaker, Prof. Adluri Subramanyam Raju, Dean of International Relations, Professor & Head of the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute for South Asia Regional Cooperation & South Asian Studies, Pondicherry University spoke on maritime heritage of India including significant issues, i.e. India’s Presidency in G20 and global development, maritime industries, ocean economy, blue economy and Coastal Tourism. Dr.Aduluri concluded his presentation with a message of Sri Aurobindo ‘the seapower and land power’ and India’s role in G20. He said that India has demonstrated its role and is seen as a security provider by others. Emphasizing the current scenario, he said that the 21st Century has been called the century of the Seas and Oceans represent a new economic frontier for growth, development and investment.
Tamil Heritage: Linguistics, Cultural and Socio-economic Advancement
Objective of this symposium was to explore the unique features of Tamil heritage, including art, architecture, manuscripts, music, linguistics, performing arts, yoga, integral life, fairs and festivals, archaeology, & tribal culture. Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Shri K. Lakshminarayanan, Hon'ble Minister for Tourism, Government of Puducherry, Shri C. Uday Kumar, Secretary (Health), Government of Puducherry, graced the occasion, and eminent scholars representing various institutions shared valuable information on Tamil heritage. Shri. K. Lakshminarayanan, Hon'ble Minister for Tourism, Government of Puducherry, said that Tamil heritage is supremely rich in culture and known to be one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Significant aspects of Tamil heritage, including art, architecture, festivals, customs, and manners, reflect the multicultural aspects of this heritage, which is integral as well. Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry said that Tamil heritage is rooted in the way of life of its people, culture, and tradition in a unique way. It presents the unique cultural elements that are preserved through the Tamil language, culture, traditions, arts, and social platforms. Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy spoke about the unique characteristics of Tamil Heritage, which represents the land, earlier called Vedapuri: Tradition of Vedic Study; the land of Rsi Agastya, the father of Siddha medicine; the cave of Tapasya for Maharshi Aurobindo, who gave the message of Integral Yoga and Divine Life to the entire world; and the land of Auroville:City of the Future. Shri C. Uday Kumar, I.A.S., Secretary (Health) Government of Puducherry spoke about the significance of Tamil heritage as one of the oldest cultural heritages in the world. Shri Shiv Kumar, Director, AuroYouth, Sri Aurobindo Society, presented the vision of Maharshi Aurobindo and the Mother and their message for unity. As part of the symposium on ‘Tamil Heritage Linguistics, Cultural, and Socio-economic Advancement,’ experts representing various institutions presented their valuable ideas on Tamil Heritage, including: Dr.P.V Bose; Dr. Gopal Jayraman; Dr. Devi Prasad Mishra; Dr. D. Thiruvalavan, Dr. Geetha Iyer, Thiru. Gopinathan, Shri B Vasant Kumar; Shri Shekhar, Smt.Bhuvaneswari, and Shri Sugumar Shanmugam.
An experience of Music Therapy for Wellness
As part of the celebration of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival, Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry attended the program ‘An experience of Music Therapy for Wellness’ organized by School of Music Therapy, Institute of Salutogenesis & Complementary Medicine, MGMCRI, Balaji Vidapeeth on 22/2/2023. Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Director, Institute of Complementary medicine and Salutogenesis (ICMS) and Professor of Yoga Therapy at the Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth University, Pondicherry presented the objectives of the centre and its activities in the area of Wellness. Prof. A. R. Srinivasan, Registrar, Balaji Vidyapeeth spoke about competency-based education for the development of healthcare as well as for spreading wellness. He discussed significant aspects of Music Therapy. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy spoke about clinical and evidence based music interventions to achieve wellness. He discussed the origin and evolution of Indian Musical tradition. Various results of Music Therapy including promotion of wellness, stress management, memory enhancement and improvement of communication were discussed during the interaction. The program was followed by beautiful musical performances by the faculty and students of School of Music Therapy, Institute of Salutogenesis& Complementary Medicine. Balaji Vidyapeeth.
Measuring Women’s Contribution to Culture:
AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India organized a Panel Discussion on Measuring Women’s Contribution to Culture- Key Factors for Achieving Sustainable Growth on 8th March, 2023. Objective of this program was to recognize the achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. Special emphasis was given on sustainable growth depending on the equitable distribution of resources and gender equality and women’s empowerment can play an important role in sustainable growth, social development and environmental stability. The program was attended by Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Dr.Amaresh Samantaraya, Professor in the Department of Economics, Pondicherry University, Ms. Gayatri Panda, State Nodal Officer, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati. The panel discussion was followed by presentations by Dr. R. Nalini; Mrs. Sithara Nair Gerdes; Ms. Ratirekha, Dr. Sundar Murugan, Ms. Shweta, Director and Dr.Beloo Mehra on the topics Substance Abuse: Its Impact on Women and Culture, Women: Her Strength & Beauty, Role of women in shaping the culture of the family and the society, Women, Dharma and Socio-cultural Evolution, Time for Being Women or a Human: Contemplation on the Guardians of the Mother for the Future of Women and Women, Culture & Entrepreneurship.
As part of PHF-2023, a round table discussion on the requirement and implementation of Responsible Tourism Practices in Pondicherry was organized at Alliance Francaise, Puducherry. A panel of policy makers, stakeholders and experts spoke on important aspects of Responsible Tourism of Puducherry. Thiru K. Lakshminarayanan graced the occasion and the 2023 Guardian of our Heritage award was given to C.H. Balamohanan for his immense contribution to the Natural Heritage of Pondicherry region.