Deepa H Ramakrishnan
Auroville's `Sangamam' festival helps foster better harmony among residents
PUDUCHERRY: It was a cloudy Sunday morning, quite a contrast to the previous day. Auroville was celebrating its Sangamam festival.
The huge football ground was covered by a shamiana, with cultural programmes being performed.
Sangamam, Auroville's annual cultural get-together for people from the surrounding villages and Aurovilians, is four years old.
There were rock and roll, Bharatanatyam, a play, singing and a magic show. The day ended with a community lunch.
"This is another step towards our goal of becoming a universal town where people of all countries can live in peace and progressive harmony. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity." The sentiment was echoed by festival organising committee members Palani, Arumugam, Clara, Rolf, Periyasamy and Selvam.
"We think that there is a communication gap between the villagers and Auroville. There are misunderstandings when it comes to land dealings. This despite the fact that Auroville has been doing a lot for the villages like providing water, toilets, roads, health care and jobs for the locals. Similarly, Auroville too needs the villagers. The two are symbiotic and so need better understanding."
Writer and historian Claude Arpi, who is also in charge of the Tibetian Pavilion, said Auroville and the villages have been helping each other over the years. "The tsunami was a time when Aurovilians came out and helped people generously very genuinely in distress. There is harmony among people here during difficult times. Sometimes there is politics, but that happens everywhere," said Mr. Claude.
A long-time resident of Auroville, who did not wish to be identified, said: "Auroville offered a possibility to bring about a process for change as much in one's individual life and collective life.
"But one without the other won't work. It is an interactive growth; you are not living for yourself. But as human beings you live for others, for your family and must show concern for the other."
She also said the Sangamam gave the locals an opportunity to present their cultural talents in front of a diverse audience. Georgeo, a photographer from Italy, who has been a resident of Puducherry for the past four years, said he first came here in the 1980s on an assignment. He liked the place and the people and wanted to come back to India. "When I finished all my work, I came back here to contemplate about myself and my life. There are a lot of things that I can do here. I can work for the schools, the community and others."