Spring of 2015 is full of devastating news from all over the world, but along with it there is good news too. Some speak about this year spring as "The Spring of Awakening,” having in mind the astrological chart of this spring months, and that some would speak of those positive tendencies they see in their own lives as well as in the life of their communities. Many say that they started to realize that only united we, as humanity, can make a difference. What can unite us when we are so different in many ways? We believe that it can be Spiritual Culture.
Let me share with you how our URI CC “Euro-Asia” residing in Novosibirsk, Siberia tries to work in cooperation with many other NGOs of our city, other places in Russia, and internationally. From the very beginning, when we as a group of friends with positive ideas of spirituality and culture joined URI, we realized that it is very difficult even to bring together in one room the representatives of different religions for a discussion, although they are ready to speak on their own religion, if we visit them. Later on we came to an understanding that we should find another way to make people of different nations and religions to come together and share what is mostly interesting and dear to each human being.
Because each one of us has been rather active in some spiritual, cultural, social NGOs before we united in one organization, we decided to unite in the name of making a difference; even a small one. This is how one year ago we started the NGO “Siberia-Golden Age” while continuing other personal projects in other organizations. So, today we are about 15 permanently active people, and each one is a member of URI CC “EURO Asia”, Slavonic Academy (Siberian Branch), and “Zhito” Organization simultaneously, working with families and women, Siberian Traditions Organization, etc.
We have no financial support to rent an office, but every Thursday we have a meeting at the Resource Center of one city region, and it is free. At the meeting within our agenda we discuss the next coming event (Seminar, Festival, Gathering) we will do together, then everyone shares the current interesting event he\she participated in, or we just report about special news in the city, country, and world. This is the time when I, as a coordinator of a URI CC, share the latest URI news. Our recently started initiative of having a 45 minute talk on the different World Religions every third week made me happy because people realized the importance of this and the idea came even not from me, but from someone else in the group. After each story/talk there is always a discussion on the religion issues.
During World Interfaith Harmony Week at the beginning of February 2015, some of the members of our organization participated in the action, organized by UPF local branch. We visited 6 religious centers where we were welcomed very warmly and were pleased to learn more about Russian Orthodox, Islamic, Judaism, Mormon, Vedic and Catholic religious ways.
March is full of spring celebrations in Russia; there is Maslenitsa - a great holiday since ancient Pre-Christian times, devoted to Spring awakenings of Nature. Russian Orthodox church was clever enough to recognize some old spiritual ways without condemning them and even adapted some of them. There is the Sun-Museum in Novosibirsk and the people working there are part of our URI CC, so we normally come together on Maslenitsa day there and have celebrations with old national songs, talks, and meals with pancakes, symbolizing the sun. March 21 (Spring Equinox Day) is our annual fathering in the Sun –Museum too, and again, it is about welcoming spring and saying “good bye” to winter, whose scare-crow is burnt down in a merry ceremony. Many city people come to the celebration.
One of the important dates of the spring is the 15th of April when in 1935, the world famous Roerich Pact of Peace was signed in Washington with the Presence of the President Roosevelt. The symbol of the Banner of Peace, suggested by Nicholas Roerich, was adopted on that day too. We use the Banner of Peace at our celebrations, for its three circles inside a bigger circle symbolize Culture, Religion, and Science. So, of course we will celebrate this day in our organization.
Recently we got an invitation from a big city mall to participate in their “Festival of Happy Families” in May-July 2015. They have their commercial interest to attract people and we have our interest of sharing more widely our knowledge and experience on this important topic. To make this cooperation fruitful, we have already started the process of preparations.
We have friendly relations with two creative groups of Russian/Siberian folk singing and dancing in our area, and sometimes invite them to our festivals or participate in their Gatherings of Indigenous People and Creativity. On the 9th of May the whole country is celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Victory Day and we are working on the agenda of our own celebrations - and of course will participate in the events organized by others. From URI CC we plan to do a program concentrating on nationality and the religious diversity of people participating in the 2nd World War, bringing liberation from fascism.
Our international cooperation lies in the participation in religious projects within URI, Gobind Sadan Interfaith Community in India, and with some other groups whose activity is on the same Spiritual- Cultural wave as ours. An example of long term friendship and cooperation is the Creative Health Network (CHN) from Palo Alto, California. Quite recently they started a new project which is really great and we joined them in their efforts of attracting people’s attention to the problem of saving our only house: Earth. No need to remind what a great problem we, as humanity, faced during the last decades. CHN started a project called “Living Love Letters to Our Planet” providing the focal point where these efforts can be unified. They wrote: “No one needs to feel that they carry the burden alone. Together, we multiply our efforts and move forward exponentially. Providing a space where individuals and organizations from different walks of life, with various beliefs and viewpoints can relate, develop and post their expressions of love and gratitude for this planet, and for life. This is a time where the merging of Spirit and Matter is taking place, where apparent opposites can become One. We are inviting you and/or your community to share what it is that inspires you to feel awe and wonder in your daily life.”
It is high time for people to understand that there are so many things which can separate us, and religion is one of them; so we believe that the way out lies in uniting and cooperating through those things which are loved and accepted by all, no matter where you live and what your spiritual belief is. And Spiritual Culture in Cooperation is able to bring Peace internationally.
- Galina Ermolina, Coordinator of URI CC “Euro-Asia”