Posted: 13.07.2022 09:03:00

Our strength lies in our traditions

About 70,000 people visited the Kupala Festival in Alexandria

Those who have been coming to the Alexandria Gathers Friends festival for more than a year have unanimously said that this festival has turned out to be bigger and brighter. This was the result of beautiful July weather and the joyful mood of the guests who managed to miss their favourite festival. It should be noted that the fact that the current Kupala Night took place in the Year of Historical Memory also contributed to the atmosphere. 
Aleksandr Lukashenko also spoke about spirituality and a sense of unity from the stage. The Head of State addressed the guests of the festival in the ‘colourful Belarusian language’, “I am very glad that year after year I welcome more and more guests here on these evenings that are sacred for our nation. First of all, I welcome genuine Belarusians: wise, kind, conscientious ones, Belarusians who can both work and celebrate together. Secondly, I welcome sincere friends, who take an interest in our rich folk history.”

But in order to understand this culture, it is necessary to touch ancient Belarusian traditions, believes Aleksandr Lukashenko, “See the beauty of the Kupala Night, and breathe in the scent of blooming summer fields. You have to feel that love and particular respect for the Belarusian land, and the Belarusian nation sprout up somewhere in the depth of your soul.”
Special words were uttered on behalf of the Belarusian people and their character traits. According to the President, everyone, who has been to Belarus at least once, who has come to know the people, knows for sure: Belarusians are wise, worthy, and free people, 
“We honour our ancestors and know our heroes well. With an open soul we welcome those who come in peace. We are always ready to break bread and give shelter to those who have lost everything. We take pride in our history and our land. Furthermore, we will never abandon this land under any circumstances. Also, we will never allow anyone to dictate how we have to live and what we have to do. I know well that a genuine Belarusian is someone, who has a home here and will always defend it. With weapons if necessary. Because we have one home. We are responsible for this home. Including before those, who lived in this land before us, and before those, who will come after us. Our ancestors had a saying: ‘Your own home is your mother but someone else’s home is a stepmother’.”

It’s getting better and better

The atmosphere of the holiday deserves special attention. Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that it is during such a festival that one understands well why the days of Kupala are one of the most long-awaited for the residents of Alexandria and its environs. He noted that preparations for the sake of perfect organisation take many months. This happened because these people look forward to welcoming their dearest and closest friends. 

The President noted that a lot of new things happened in the year that has passed since the previous festival, “A lot of new, unexpected, pleasant, and totally unpleasant things happened. Particularly in our dear Ukraine. You see what is going on over there. Every day brings all kinds of news from there including joyful news but most of all sad news. I am confident that this gray-haired Dnieper River that unites our Slavonic nations will see our Ukrainian friends soon. We, Russians and Belarusians, will be pleased to see them at our festival.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko wished those present to be healthy and happy, live a rich life, love your loved ones and your native Belarus.

Kupala Night is a brand of the country

The strength of the Belarusian people lies in the preservation of their traditions and love for them. This was announced during the grand opening of the Kupala Festival by the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus and the chairman of the permanent organising committee for the preparation and holding of the Kupala Festival Igor Petrishenko, “Being at a geopolitical crossroads, it was very difficult for Belarus to organise, defend and form an independent state. It is in the Year of Historical Memory that we honour the heroes of the day who praised the wisdom, beauty and talent of the Belarusian people in their works — these are Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas. We are celebrating 140 years since their birth. I think that this is a clear evidence of grateful descendants that we live, honour and love these traditions. This is where the strength of our people lies.”

Mogilev Region Governor Anatoly Isachenko noted that the Alexandria Gathers Friends festival has long become a brand not only of the region, but of the whole country, “Traditionally, we have a lot of guests, each of them shows its originality. Alexandria has become the platform where the boundaries between peoples are blurred, we are all friends. Together we should be proud of what we are, remembering the past, building the present and dreaming about the future. It is no coincidence that our historical past, our identity was the leitmotif of the festival in Alexandria.” 

Cultural dialogue

Alexandria has traditionally become a platform for cultural dialogue: creative delegations came from Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan — one hundred guests from almost twenty regions. There were real Orenburg shawls and nesting dolls: the traditional crafts of the Slavs seem to be similar, but a unique cultural code is read in each toy or ornament. He came to his relatives —this is how the folk master from Bryansk Alexander Berenchuk describes his first impressions of the Belarusian land, “This is my first time in Alexandria and in Belarus. We were very warmly welcomed in Mogilev, Belarusians are very friendly people. I have been doing bobbin lace, and have been knitting since I was ten years old. The fact that knitting is not a male occupation is a delusion. All types of so-called women’s needlework today were invented by representatives of the stronger sex.”
Blacksmith from Mstislavl Sergei Kudikov visited Alexandria for the third time, “Remarkably, this time there is a very representative creative Russian delegation of craftsmen. The works are cool, they differ from the Belarusian tradition, although there are many similarities. It is very interesting to communicate: new acquaintances, exchange of experience.”
The Belarusian lyalka was the symbol of the festival this year. All district craft houses took part in the competition for making Kupalinka dolls. The most creative were craftswomen from Krasnopolye, Slavgorod, Dribin and Bykhov districts. The jury of the competition had a hard time — it was necessary to give an artistic assessment to almost fifty dolls. The techniques are very different: straw weaving, ceramics, rag dolls. Clothes for dolls with hand embroidery. The main thing was to convey the features of your place through lyalka. 
Kupala Festival guests were offered to visit four seasons at the same time. Creative collectives from all corners of our country presented the holidays of the national calendar of Belarusians of the annual cycle. ‘The circle of life’ symbolised Alexandria. It was in the form of a decorative wheel, which traditionally crowned the fair pole at folk festivals, that the fair streets were arranged. Under the symbol of the circle of life, a presentation of the holiday calendar of our ancestors took place: not only Kupala Night, but also other folk rituals were demonstrated by ethnographic collectives from different regions of Belarus.

Dynamic, bright and inspiring

Alexandria Gathers Friends festival is a recognition of love for a birthplace. Thus, the homeland begins with the family. In Alexandria, the winners of the Lord of the Village nationwide family agricultural project were determined. They were Denis and Yulia Veraksa from the village of Briskovichi, Mozyr District. Spouses have three children. The head of the family is a soldier of the border troops, and the wife is now on maternity leave.
The theme of patriotism was the leitmotif of many thematic campaigns  in the Year of Historical Memory. For example, an open-air museum of models of architectural monuments of the Mogilev Region turned into a popular photo zone on the youth street of the festival. Temples, castles, fortresses in miniature were created by the students of vocational technical schools of the region. In addition, Mogilev bakers — Domochai bakery — presented the Bread of war museum. Recipes for wartime bread were restored according to memories and archives. Visitors could taste front-line bread, rear-line bread, blockade bread with sawdust, barley husks, see bread cards and think about the significance of such a familiar and affordable loaf today. 

Concerts were held in a non-stop basis from the very opening of the festival on the small stage in Alexandria. World Hits — Children. New Voices concert, musical greetings from Slavianski Bazaar were presented in the Festival Vitebsk programme, popular folk music companies Vesyalukha and
Medunitsa performed.
Mogilev DOSAAF flying club presented vivid emotions to the guests of the festival. The aerobatics performed in the sky over Alexandria were greeted with applause. The exhibition of products of Minsk Tractor Works and SZAO BelGee called Made in Belarus aroused great interest among guests of all ages. Farmers looked closely at mini-tractors, and their (and not only their) children were photographed behind the wheel of brand new electric cars.

There is something to see in Alexandria! The gala concert on the main stage of the festival was called just like that. A musical comedy with elements of a show and a theatrical performance with the participation of Belarusian and Russian pop stars: Ruslan Alekhno, Natalia Podolskaya, Elena Vaenga, Igor Nikolaev. The concert ended with spectacular festive fireworks. However, the festival festivities did not end there, they smoothly moved to a small stage with a nightly disco Party on the Kupala Night. Guests of Kupala will remember their impressions of the festival for a long time. Young spouses from Mogilev Dmitry and Maria Romanovsky first came to Alexandria three years ago and now do not miss a single festival, “We come for vivid impressions, rest here with our soul. We want to have time to see everything: a fair, a concert and fireworks. There is a special atmosphere here, very sincere.”
The festive mood of the festival guests will remain for a very long time, and in a year Alexandria will again gather friends. As is well known, friendship only grows stronger over the years.

By Yelena Kukshinskaya, Lyubov Solovieva, Dmitry Umpirovich
Photos by Darya Titova, BELTA