Charles Talcott spotted in a local photo studio in Pondi
Time to renew the passport, Charles poses for his new ID pictures – Pondi style.
Josquin and I got to an early start of the day on yet another rainy morning. After breakfast, we attended the initiation visit at the Matrimandir. At first glance, the Matrimandir looks like a huge golden golf ball in the middle of the town. Of course, there is more to it, but I couldn’t help but think about that whenever I saw it.
When she founded Auroville, the Mother wished to create a central meditation spot for all Aurovillians to go to. According to the charter, Auroville is a city for Humanity and no religion is forced upon anyone. However, there is a strong push to elevate the mind and spirit to a higher state of consciousness. The word Matrimandir comes from the sanskrit words for mother (matri) and house/shrine (mandir) and represent the spiritual and geographical centre of Auroville around which the city is built in following the pattern of a galaxy. With the help an architect, the Mother designed the structure as a sun piercing through the layers of earth, with twelve earth petals surrounding the sun as it bursts out of the ground. The sun represents the divine consciousness breaking through the earth, symbolically encouraging each individual to spiritually achieve a higher state of consciousness. The twelve layers of earth each symbolize a petal and each petal is a meditation room that has different frequencies (colors), thus working on different parts of the body.
After a brief history of the site, we went in to discover a very simple, yet elegant interior to the Matrimandir. As you enter, no talking or even coughing is allowed and each person has to wear white socks as to not dirty the carpets. I was surprised to see that everyone respected the talking rule and I instantly felt a sense of calm and serenity as I entered the premises. The white walls and carpet look very pure and the three water paths going down the contours of the inner sphere are very soothing for the mind. As you make your way up the spacious inner sphere through the spiral ramp, you reach the top of the sphere and the inner chambre. The inner chambre is a circular room with high ceilings in which a crystal ball is placed at the centre. A beam of light shines down the top of the sphere and illuminates the crystal sphere at the centre, around which we meditated silently. Throughout my stay in Auroville, I have found time to enjoy meditation, be it outside or at the Tibetan Pavilion for New Year’s eve, but my experience at the Matrimandir was by far the most profound. I felt a slight asthma discomfort as I walked in having being recovering from a soar throat and difficulty breathing. But, as soon as I sat down, I was able to concentrate and just think of nothing for 20 minutes. A rare moment, as everyone sat silently. I felt the light that shined through the ceiling all around me, re-energizing my body and soul during the 15 minutes I spent in the inner chambre. At the end of the meditation period, I opened up my eyes was surprised to find myself smiling and completely rejuvenated. It was as if I had soaked in energy and altered my state of mind for the rest of the day. Josquin felt the positive energy of the Matrimandir as well so we decided we will attend the longer meditation session on Monday morning.
Play of Paint, AUP students are given a tour of the Udavi school led by the students
One of the final stops on our tour of the Udavi School was a room in which students were free to paint without evaluation or instruction. The technique is meant to allow and encourage the free expression of creative thought.
Photo by Susanne Spahn
Children light candles outside the Tibetan Pavilion
Our second home became a place of meditation as hundreds of people gathered to reflect on the past year and light a candle to welcome the new one. Buddhist chants echoed throughout the atrium as the laughter and chatter of friends and family surrounded the pavilion.
The City of Dawn sees its first sunrise of the new year
The amphitheater at Matrimandir was lined with candles and new years greetings in a dozen languages written with flowers. The Mother’s organ music played as visitors watched the first sunrise of 2010.
Photos by Pushan Bhowmick