First International Conference and Gathering of the Elders
4th Feb to 9th Feb 2003, Mumbai
We – Jonas Trinkunas and Inija Trinkuniene – as representatives of the WCER and the ethnic religion of the Baltic Romuva attended the first Council of the Elders of Ancient Traditions and Cultures in Mumbai (Bombay) India. It was first international world gathering of elders of ethnic cultures and ancient traditions. One of the main ideas was "Unity in diversity", the same as the logo of our WCER. We were given possibility to present the papers of Baltic tradition and revival of ancient faith and WCER. My paper concerned the revival of ethnic religions in Europe and the WCER, Inija has talked about folklore as the source of Baltic religion. We have used a great opportunity to make contacts with distinguished Hindu professors and spiritual leaders.
We, as well as the representatives of other traditions and cultures were asked to perform our traditional ritual. We did it performing our Baltic fire ritual and traditional singing. It was perceived as very close to Hindu Sama Veda tradition.
We, as the representatives of the WCER and Romuva religion were given special attention. The organizers of the conference and R.S.S. leaders arranged the meeting with journalists and TV in Delhi, in headquarter of one of the India Parliament member. We had possibility to present our ritual of fire and talk about the WCER, the European and Baltic tradition and the common roots of European and Hindu tradition. The TV journalists were also present. We are waiting for the published material, our Hindu fiends had promised to send it to us. We are thankful for the inviting us to conference to brilliant organizer Dr.Yashwant Pathak and for the financial help of the Infinity Foundation.
The Council brought some 200 people together, more than half of whom were Indian, including many Americans, South Africans and Australians of Indian origin, and a large contingent of Himalayan tribesmen from Arundha Pradesh. The African religions were also well represented. The Yoruba Orisha tradition was represented both by 4 Afro-American women from the Yoruba Temple in Washington, DC; and by the 79 year old chief Orisha priest in Trinidad and the current poet laureate of Trinidad. The Queen Mother of the Ashanti in Ghana was also there, accompanied by an American woman, and there were two people from Kenya. There were five Native Americans and six Europeans: Frederic Lamond, representative of Pagan Federation, Jonas Trinkunas, representative of World Congress of Ethnic Religions, Inija Trinkuniene, the leader of Vilnius Romuva in Lithuania, Pedro Ortega from Spain and two other scientists from Scotland and Holland.
As we had convicted in the Conference, the problems for preservation and the reviving of traditional cultures and religions are the same almost in all countries.
Some accusations against Europe were said in the Conference. The globalization of culture, the destruction traditional cultures and religions were declared the main sin of the Europe. We, the representatives of European traditions, argued this statement. Europe was the first who had suffered from the Christian aggression. The conclusion was: monotheistic religions such as Islam and Christianity were the first monsters globalizators destroying traditional cultures and religions.
The impression that we get both in conference and after conference tour in India was feeling of mutual roots of Hindu and European heritage. We saw the same variety of gods, the fire ritual, the singing of Mantras, very close to Lithuanian traditional chanting. The travel to India was thrilling and inspiring.
The organisers of our after conference tour were volunteers from the RSS, the National Voluntary Service founded in 1925 to reinvigorate and defend the Hindu way of life (Hindutva), which is represented politically by the BJP, the leaders in the current Indian coalition government. The RSS regards Hinduism not as a religion (that was a British invention) but as a way of life and culture with many religions
It's difficult to describe full the picture of our impressions and feelings. The main thing is that Hindu culture made us more aware of the spiritual path we are following on. We had found such a large amount of similarities in living Hindu and European tradition.
I’m adding here some comments of F.Lamond, the representative of Pagan Federation: “So where did we foreign Pagans fit in, and why were we given such a red carpet treatment, normally given only to high level trade delegations? To show the Himalayan hill tribes, for whose souls the RSS is conducting such a fight against the Christian missionaries, that resistance to Christianisation is not an Indian peculiarity but is a world wide fight by all cultural traditions to resist homogenisation into a single Christian cum Hollywood consumerist culture. That is why such a large contingent of different Himalayan tribes had been invited to the Council with all expenses paid by the RSS. There they heard in five days of lectures and cultural events about the efforts of Africans, Afro-Americans, Native Americans and Polynesians to defend their ancestral religions against the oppressive Christian proselytisation that they had had to endure, as well as from Europeans about our efforts to revive our Nature-worshipping Pagan traditions.”
At the end of the Council most us signed the Mumbai Manifesto.
Another Council of Elders is already being planned for 2006 to take place in Washington, DC. Its theme will be “Spirituality beyond Religion.”
Unanimously Adopted Proclamation Manifested on 9th Feb 2003
At the start of the New Millenium, humanity stands at a critical crossroads of history. In the midst of tremendous strides in scientific and technological progress and material comforts, there is an urgent need for spiritual and moral resurgence for ensuring the well-being of the human family, for preserving the larger living world and for strengthening the foundations of durable universal peace.
We, the participants at the First International conference and Gathering of the Elders of the Ancient Traditions and Cultures and Children of Mother Earth firmly affirm the following:
I. We assert that all human beings are born equal and have equal rights to live peacefully on Mother Earth.
· Peace and Prosperity, at global level, can be realized only when the conflicts within and between the communities vanish and we develop a spirit of tolerance.
· We vow to strive for World Peace and Prosperity by working towards achieving a bond of humanity between different cultures and traditions in order to bring about a synthesis of the cultures of East, West, North and South of Mother Earth.
II. This sacred universe, full of mysteries, is The Divine Manifestation. All of us have drawn our inspiration from the rich heritage of our ancestors, who as a part of their spiritual pursuit had realized as a part of their spiritual pursuit that The Omniscient and The Omnipresent Divinity manifests in different forms. We affirm that:
III. We have inherited from our ancestors rites and rituals to invoke Divinity, by different names and different forms. We proclaim that –
· We have equal rights to follow our own traditions, rituals and spiritual and religious philosophies that are
· not harmful or threatening to others’ existence.
IV. We declare that we will work together towards
Bringing about an understanding within different cultures and build up an atmosphere that will be conducive to the development of humanity as whole.