Yesterday, February 28th, it was a special day: it was Auroville’s 43rd Birthday. We woke up very early (at 4.45 am) and went to the Amphitheatre by the Matrimandir, where every year on this date a bonfire is lit at dawn.
Around 5.45 am, while the bonfire was already burning, Auroville Charter was read in French, English, Sanskrit and Tamil (the 4 official languages of the “City of Dawn”).
Around the urn in the shape of a lotus bud located in the middle of the Amphitheatre there was a beautiful belt of white flowers and the words “Bénédictions à Auroville” written also with flowers and candles. Lovely. It was a really simple, quiet and sacred ceremony.
By 6.15 am the first beams of daylight brought out into view the magnificent Banyan Tree and the Matrimandir.
Before leaving the place, we got close to the flower belt, like most of the people did, and I could see what flowers had been used; if I’m not mistaken, they were tuberoses, which the Mother used to give on birthdays or special events (their message is “New Creation. Strong, lasting and fragrant, it rises straight towards the sky“). They had a delicious perfume…
The incredible and impressive Banyan Tree by the Matrimandir is actually Auroville’s geographical centre. The presence of this particular banyan tree is definitely imposing. Whenever we have the chance, we go to visit it, to feel it and let its energy and strength flood us. It is really something…
At the International House there is also a very young banyan tree which started to grow on the top of the tall water deposit, the seeds probably left there by some bird (incredible!). The tree was later planted in the front garden. Banyan trees (Ficus bengalensis) are regarded as sacred in India and have a remarkable peculiarity: they have aerial roots which grow down from the branches to the ground and become new trunks. One evening, sitting by this little banyan tree at the International House, I felt inspired and wrote a poem. I’m offering it as today’s closing.
But before that, let me tell you about another celebration and bonfire we enjoyed last night: Svaram, the Musical Instruments and Research Center, was also celebrating its birthday, in this case, its 8th Birthday. Since they spent most of the day getting everything ready for the evening’s event, the workshop was closed and Leonardo couldn’t work on his prototypes, but he gave them a hand putting up a marquee. In the evening, we were invited to the Puja and supper they were offering to their workers, families and friends. It was a very pleasant evening, with nice people, good food, a purifying fire and lots of music, of course!!
As you can see, it was a day of big celebrations…
And to end up, here is my poem.
Litlle banyan tree
Litlle banyan tree…
Young and tender you look to me.
So many things still to see,
so many experiences still to be.
And yet, so full of life,
so full of drive,
so full of innocence and awe.
Your aerial roots still to grow,
wisdom of earth and sky to come.
And yet, I feel your eagerness to know,
to share your unique gifts with the world.
Your roots willing to go deep into the ground,
your branches reaching for the shining sun,
your leaves dancing with your brother wind,
your sap moisturizing you within.
And all around you… vast space,
space to grow, to share, to embrace.
Thank you, my dear banyan tree
for you just helped me see my little me.