Date: March 3-7, 2012

Place: Haridwar, India

Working language: English

Delegation from Kyrgyzstan:

–       Nurak Abdrakhmanov

–       Amanbubu Torogeldiva

–       Gulnara Aitpaeva

–       Samir Bajaliev

–       Cholponai U-G

–       Aibek Samakov

Goals and objectives of the conference:

–       Creating a discussion platform for the elders to discuss the status of traditional cultures and to exchange thoughts and ideas

–       Studying the common ground between different cultures

–       Encouraging a transfer of values of traditional cultures to younger generations.

The conference was attended by over 300 delegates from more than 30 countries, among them holders of traditional cultures from North- and Central American Indian tribes, New Zealand, Tibet, India, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hungary, UK, Latvia, and others.

At the conference, different methods of exchanging knowledge were used, such as:

–       Plenary sessions and small group discussions with presentations of research papers

–       Cultural shows and presentations

–       Shows and conducting of traditional ceremonies

The delegates from Kyrgyzstan actively took part in all of the above described events. At the plenary session, Gulnara Aitpaeva presented the authorial article “Zhashylyk: harmonizing the will of nature and human needs”, which considers traditional practices and knowledge of climate change on the basis of the “Manas” epic, oral history, and contemporary practices. It is worth noting that during this presentation, Manaschy Zamir Bayaliev told an excerpt from Manas, which describes the use of Zhaychylyk to the heroes of the epic; and the famous musician Nurak Abdrakhmanov played melodies on the komuz similar to those used by the Kyrgyz for building necessary relationships with the environment and weather.

The Kyrgyz delegation made a great contribution to the enrichment of the conference’s cultural program. To the spectators, traditional tunes and songs were presented, performed by Nurak Abdrakhmanov and Amanbubu Torogeldieva on the Komuz and Oos Komuz (Jew’s harp), as well as an episode of the “Manas” epic performed by Zamir Bayaliev. The traditional music and epic culture of the Kyrgyz people made a strong impression on the participants. For many of them, it was the first time coming into contact with the Kyrgyz culture.

University students, interested in our culture, invited the delegation to an interview. The students of the Faculty for Communication and Journalism asked many interesting questions which mainly dealt with the similarities and differences between traditional Indian and Kyrgyz cultures.

A special role in the conference presented the ceremonies, which were conducted by representatives of different cultures. Each participant could take part in these ceremonies, which in turn contributed to a better understanding of the foundations and values of each culture. The delegates from Kyrgyzstan demonstrated the blessing ceremony (bata beruu) and the ceremony for laying the baby into the cradle (beshike saluu).

The delegates from Kyrgyzstan took an active part in the ceremonies of other cultures- for example, in ceremonies to light the fire of various nations, such as of Indians, Lithuanians, Nepalese, Mayans and others. Nurak Abdrakhmanov was invited to join the ceremony of the Navajo Indians, puffing pipes as one of the “seven kings”. All of the Fire Ceremonies were held almost simultaneously on the morning of March 7. Each participant had the opportunity to join whichever group he felt interested or close to. This once again emphasized the philosophy of the event: unity in diversity.

This idea was a common thread in the statements of the majority of scholars and practitioners. Many elders noted that nobody should try to change others to the image of his own pleasing; that all cultures are wise and beautiful, and that one cannot speak of the superiority of one culture over another.

The main initiator of the conference was the International Center for Cultural Studies (ICCS), which with the help of the World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions and Cultures, organized the 4th Conference and Gathering of the Elders in the city of Haridwar, India.

It should be noted that the conference was extremely well organized and the university students were very successfully engaged in the organizational work. They served as moderators during the sessions, presented and performed during the cultural programs, helped participants navigate around the campus and ensured lunches and coffee breaks. All of the organizers were very friendly and helpful, showing respect to all participants. Their hospitality was comparable with that of the Kyrgyz’. Further, lunch and coffee breaks were used as a means of establishing closer contacts between the conference participants. For example, the president of ICCS, Dr. Radheshyam Dwivedi, joined the Kyrgyz delegation several times for dinner, thereby providing attention and respect to our delegation. The international coordinator, Dr. Yashwant Pathak, did everything possible so that the participants would feel “like at home”, and also took an active part in the conference.
The organizers, taking into account the diversity of cultures present at the conference, also made sure to include the national colors in their works. Further, all sessions began with an appeal to the spirit of the founder of this university, Shriram Sharma Acharya, as well as prayers.
In our view, the conference venue created a favorable environment for the success of the conference. The atmosphere of the city of Haridwar, a highly worshiped holy city for Hindus, meaning “Gate of God”, as well as the campus of the University Dev Sanskrit, where yoga, traditional knowledge, etc. are being studied and where all the conference events where held; shaped the participants in a positive way and encouraged their spiritual quest.
Indeed, the campus encompasses temples and special places designed for meditation. To activate all chakras, an acupuncture center was built on the campus, where a path paved with special stones acts on the active spots of the feet. Further, on the center’s lawns, medicinal herbs are grown used to treat various diseases. The participants were also impressed by the university campus’ aspiration to fulfill self-sufficiency: the campus contains a cow farm, a weaving shop and a system for naturally developing biogas. The cow farm provides the university with dairy products. Also, in special laboratories, medicine is made from cow urine and hygiene products from cow excrements. The excrements are also used as raw material to produce biogas.

The weaving shop comprises the complete cycle of production of cotton fabric; from the spinning of yarn to the finished production of fabric. It should be noted that at all stages, manual labor is applied using conventional techniques that have been used for over 2000 years.

The end of the conference was as spectacular as its beginning. The final ceremony was a celebration of the sacred Spring Festival, or the so-called Festival of Colors. People of all ages and nationalities threw powders, made from various herbs, and painted each others’ faces with wishes of kindness and happiness. The multi-colors symbolize the different and diverse lives.

For Aigine CRC, this conference was very useful in terms of establishing new contacts, as well as for determining long-term initiatives. During the conference, close ties were made with representatives of the International Center for Cultural Studies, representatives of the Kurultai movement in Hungary and others, who discussed the issues of master’s and doctoral scholarships for students from Kyrgyzstan.

In addition, Aigine CRC will work towards establishing an educational center, “Muras Tanu”, where anyone can perceive traditional wisdom of the people of Kyrgyzstan, in a variety of aspects. We have also formulated the dream of establishing a university on traditional knowledge. Further, we will offer the idea of transitioning the universities of Kyrgyzstan to more or less self-contained operational models.