Celebrating Buddhism in Russia

Oct 9, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in March 2012]

budhism_mapA Buddhist art exhibit opened in Saint Petersburg, Russia as a key event of the Days of Tibetan Culture in Saint Petersburg festival, which run through March 18. The collection on show includes over 200 items, both ancient and modern, including paintings on cloth, sculptures, and ritual objects. These items have been created in the workshops and monasteries of India, Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia, as well as closer to home — in the Russian republics of Buryatia (near Mongolian border) and Kalmykia (in the North Caucasus), where Buddhist culture has been developing for centuries. Also part of the program is a photography exhibit titled “Stupa, Wish Fulfilling,” depicting images of stupas (Buddhist places of worship) in the Republic of Kalmykia, Tibet, Nepal, India and Europe. The photography exhibit has been organized to support the construction of the Enlightenment Stupa due to be inaugurated this summer in the village of Mork in Russia’s Republic of Mari El. The exhibit was originally created in Saint Petersburg in 2003, as part of the 300-year anniversary of the city, and has since traveled to nearly 40 cities and been seen by 65,000 museum-goers. The project aims on the one hand to celebrate the cultural and historical heritage of Buddhism — both on Russian territory and further afield — and on the other hand to present the phenomenon of modern Buddhism. For these purposes, the exhibit is accompanied wherever it goes by a program of meditation classes, thematic lectures and documentary and feature film screenings. According to a report in The St.Petersburg Times,  in light of the growing popularity in contemporary Russia of spiritual practices that have roots in Buddhism, such as yoga and meditation, these festival is expected to be very popular.

Elsewhere in Russia, Days of Buddhist Culture have been celebrated by hundreds of Buddhists from around the world, who took a plunge in near-freezing Lake Baikal with air temperatures dropping down to -25 degrees Celsius. Ice swimming – called morzhevanie in Russian, from the word for ‘walrus’ – has strong traditions among Russians who believe in its health benefits, especially as part of the banya experience. After the first good sweat in the banya is induced, it is customary to cool off in the breeze outdoors or splash around in cold water of a lake or river, typically in the nude. But ice swimming and dousing with cold water are also part of a ritual of the Orthodox Church for the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, or can be done for sports.


Related Posts

Subscribe For Updates

We would love to have you back on Languages Of The World in the future. If you would like to receive updates of our newest posts, feel free to do so using any of your favorite methods below: