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Land under white wings — one for all

Closing ceremony of 11th Republican Festival of National Cultures in Grodno attended by 120,000 people, with final festivities held on major scale
As is traditional, each festival results in Grodno receiving a work of art: this year, it gained the ‘Flat-Bottomed Boat’ sculpture, which may become a tourist symbol for the city. The sculpture stands now on the right bank of the River Nieman, created by Grodno master Vladimir Panteleev in the shape of a 12th century chess rook. It stands also near the hills upon which stand the Old and New castles.

Photo: Vitaly Gil

For the first time, Syrians, Ceylonese, Americans and Nigerians — all students of Belarusian medical universities — took part in the festive parade of representatives of diasporas. A tree to honour each nationality has been planted in the Park of Friendship, which opened last year.

The Iranian ‘pavilion’ opened for the first time. According to Seyed Abdul Majid Shafai, the Counsellor of Culture at the Iranian Embassy to Belarus, only Iranian musical bands used to arrive in Grodno during the festival. He notes, “We’ve brought various books to the festival, primarily in Russian language and describing Iran. Moreover, we have lots of hand-made items of decorative-and-applied arts: from rugs, which are our pride, to wooden and metal crafts. Our musical group Mezrab has been performing too.”

Bright colours of festival in Grodno. Photo: Vitaly Gil

22 national craft centres took part, featuring 37 nationalities currently residing in Belarus. Visitors were able to see inside a Kazakh yurt, and dance the Greek Sirtaki, Jewish Hava Nagila and Dagestan’s Lezghinka. Dance and song dominated, Belarusian stars performing with amateur bands representing national communities.

According to Natalia Kochanova, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, the value and importance of the festival, held every other year, lies in its ability to unite nations, bringing them together as a single family. She tells us, “We’ve again made sure that there’s no difference between nations in our country; we’re a multi-national state which is home to 140 nationalities and ethnic groups. We have over 200 national-cultural public organisations, all with equal rights.”

Photo: BelTA

Our country — the only one within post-Soviet space — has fully preserved the idea of friendship and brotherhood. Each nation is unique and wonderful while each culture, however much in the minority, is priceless. The Republican Festival of National Cultures has been promoting this idea for twenty years, attracting new friends to its banners.

“Belarus is a rushnik, where representatives of various nationalities can embroider their cultural patterns,” underlines Belarus’ Culture Minister, Boris Svetlov, summing up the festival.

By Irina Osipova
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