Global Connections II

Moscow, New York, Auroville • 2014

Hall of Peace poster
On the occasion of this auspicious event in south India at 5pm, concurrent gatherings occurred around the Nakashima Altar for Peace in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC at 6:30am, and the Sacred Peace Table in the Hall of Peace at the Russian Academy of Arts in Moscow at 3:30pm. Each location created a unique moving experience touching all who attended. The global unifying factor was the lighting of a candle on the Sacred Peace Tables and Altar, the sincerity of the participants’ aspirations, flower offerings and the recitation of a Blessing contemporaneously at the beginning of each ceremony in honor of the dedication of The Hall of Peace. To see a video of the event in Auroville, please click here.
This was a beautiful and creative event in Auroville. People from the community were joined by diplomats from Delhi and participants from the United States. In fact the audience overflowed from the Hall of Peace into the surrounding gardens.
Julian Lines, a Nakashima Foundation for Peace board member and on the International Advisory Council at Auroville, was instrumental in organizing the event.  Meenakshi is a long time Aurovilian.  Mira Nakashima-Yarnall was also celebrating her birthday!
Left to right: Gauri Pinto, Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, Miriam Belov, board member. Gauri, a close friend of Mira’s, is the daughter of Udar and Mona Pinto, early ashramites. Udar was a collaborator with George Nakashima on building Golconde which is often considered the 1st modern building in India, and Mona oversaw managing the guesthouse for many years and maintained it impeccably.
Left to right: Miriam Belov, Nakashima Foundation for Peace board member, Ambassador Chinmaya Gharekhan –president of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Carel Thieme – an Aurovilian who initiated the project of the Sacred Peace Table in 1996, Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, Aster Patel – an early ashramite & Aurovilian on the Auroville Foundation and Rita Gharekhan.
Left to right: Jon Yarnall, Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, Soomi and Ru Amagasu.  Traveling together from the USA were Mira and her brother Kevin Nakashima with several family members including Mira’s husband Jon, her son Ru and his wife Soomi whose young son Toshi lit the candle to begin the event. Miriam Carpenter, artist and designer at the Nakashima Studios also attended. The banner behind the group shows The Mother’s signature, which is visually “the Bird of Peace descending upon earth”.
Left: On this day of Unity, February 11, 2014, it was a bitter cold and dark morning in Manhattan. I entered the Cathedral of St John the Divine in the black of night at 6am. The only light came from the pin point lights on the recently installed Phoenix sculptures created by the Chinese artist Xu Bing eerily floating above and suspended from the rafters of the Cathedral. Soon Rev Canon Julia Whitworth joined and we prepared for our welcome of unity. Right: The fragrance of rose petals scented the dark cool air awaiting the ceremony start. There would be such petals placed at each site this day – New York, Moscow and Auroville where the Hall of Peace would be dedicated.
Light from the candle bathed the altar with a warm glow and accented the petals’ dappled texture.
Left: Irene Goldman, Nakashima Foundation for Peace board member; Rev  Julia Whitworth, Canon for Liturgy and the Arts of the Cathedral of St John the Divine. Several lights came on with Rev Whitworth’s arrival and the celebration of unity began.  The candle was lit and a moment of silence was observed. Then began the first reading of the Blessing at exactly 6:30 am just as it would be read at the same moment in time in Moscow (3:30pm) and Auroville (5pm). They were joined by Rev Chloe Breyer, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of NY. With care the petals were placed and Rev Canon Whitworth gave a Blessing followed by shared readings from the Sayings of the Elders originally been compiled in 2001 by then Dean, The Very Rev.James Parks Morton and Irene Goldman for the dedication of the Sacred Peace Table in Moscow.  Moscow and Auroville were recalled during the ceremony as the observance continued. Participants each read several selections interspersed by moments of silence. A bell was rung to close the unity gathering, its sound reverberating through the vast dark space.
In Moscow, on February 11, 2014 at 3:30pm, in the Hall of Peace of the Museum and Exhibition Complex of the Russian Academy of Arts at the Nakashima Sacred Peace Table, there was a ceremony of spiritual unity with participants in Auroville, India, inaugurating their Hall of Peace to house the Nakashima Sacred Peace Table for South Asia. The Moscow Nakashima Sacred Peace Table was presented as a gift from George Nakashima and the Nakashima Foundation for Peace to the peoples of Russia and all Europe and consecrated in the Hall of Peace at the Russian Academy of Arts in June of 2001.
Among the guests in Moscow at the Sacred Peace Table in the Hall of Peace in the Russian Academy of Arts were: Director of Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Center in Moscow, Mr. Bandaru Wilsonbabu; Chief Scientific Secretary of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Arts (RAA), Oleg Koshkin; Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Arts, Andrey Zolotov; First Deputy President of the RAA Sergey Kolov; members of the Russian Academy of Arts and Friends of the Nakashima Peace Table project including†Quakers from the Society of Friends.
After opening with a reading of the Blessing, the attendees also read quotations on peace provided by the Nakashima Foundation for Peace. They also expressed their individual hopes that all problems in the world would be resolved through negotiation and that all peoples would find peace in their soul. The Sacred Peace Table was festooned with rose petals provided by Natasha Zhuravenkogo, a member of the Moscow Society of Friends. The ceremony closed with a single tone of a bell.