Wednesday, June 21, 2006

EU - US Summit In Vienna, Austria To Be Followed By Summits Of CSTO And EurAsEC Presidents In Minsk, Belarus; Union Shield 2006 Exercise Begins Today

"On June 23, Minsk will host summits of two interstate institutions at once – the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Community. Presidents of member-states of these organisations will arrive in Minsk to take part in summits.

The Belarusian foreign ministry informed BelTA, Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov is expected to be the first to arrive in Minsk on June 22. After him Kazakhstan leader Nursultan Nazarbaev will arrive. On the same day Tajikistan president Imomali Rakhmonov is expected to arrive in Minsk.

On June 23 Belarus will welcome Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin as well as Armenia president Robert Kocharian and Kyrgyzstan president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

At present the CSTO consists of Belarus, Russia, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. EurAsEC consists of Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Armenia, Moldova, and Ukraine are observers in this organisation."

Belarus Official State Telegraph Agency "CSTO, EurAsEC presidents to convene in Minsk" June 20, 2006


"Six aircraft of the Russian Air Force long-range aviation — two Tu-160, two Tu-95MC and two Tu-22M3 — are taking part in the manoeuvres Union Shield 2006 in the Republic of Belarus today, the information and public relations service of the Russian Federation Air Force told BelTA.

The Tu-160 and Tu-95MC aircraft took off from Engels airfield in Saratov region, while the Tu-22M3 took off from Saltsy airfield in Penza region.

"The long-range aviation will perform the tasks they were assigned at Belarus' firing ranges and will return to their bases without landing in Belarus," explained the source."

Belarus Official State Telegraph Agency "Russian long-range air force takes part in Union Shield 2006 exercise" June 21, 2006


"Kupalle (Solstice, June 21) is the most loved and cherished pagan holiday in contemporary Belarus. The tradition is very ancient. Under different names this holiday is celebrated by all peoples of indo-european group. During the summer Solstice, Yaryla (God-Sun) was reaching its biggest power. Kupalle - is a hedonistic summer celebration of the lands fertillity in the name of a female God - Kupala. It seems like she is considered a lunar Goddess by some pagan sources, although direct translation of the name is "She Who Bathes". Lately it was renamed into a christian celebration of a male saint - Ivan Kupala. There is a whole complex of traditional rituals, beliefs, love and agricultural magic. Supposedly in ancient times Kupalle was celebrated in the night from July 6 to July 7. During the day of July 6 young girls were going into the meadows to collect different "kupal'skiia" (made on Kupalle) plants and remedies - corn flower, ferns, etc. It was considered that the plants gathered at this time have particular strengths for curing and magic. Part of these plants were used in food. Some plants were used for magical protection and the wreaths of these plants were put on the walls of the houses to protect against bad spirits. Some of the plants were used in the "kupal'skiia" wreaths which were weared on the head by young men and women durin Kupalle celebration. Here is more of the description of Kupalle celebration among ancient eastern slavs from the Saint Petersburg's Naturist Society.

The central part in Kupalle celebration was a fire. This fire was symbolizing life and Yaryla, and was expelling deathj. During the day young men would prepare the place to start ther fire. They would go around the village collecting old things - clothes, broken barrels - and would take them out to the chosen for festivity place. Usually it would be a meadow, a forest glade, a bank of a river. Guys would. Then later the youth would go around the village calling with their special Kupalle songs for the celebration. Special ritual food was cooked on the fire - fried eggs (egg symbolized both sun and life), kulaha (a sort of a pudding made of wheat powder), vareniki (dumplings stuffed with berries - blueberries, cherries, raspberies). The oiled wooden wheel would be set on fire to symbolize sun.

Kupalle usually involves youth going into the forests and the meadows, wearing flower and grass garlands and wreaths on their heads (see this modern picture of Katia on Kupala night). There will be many rituals ofl purification practiced - jumping through the fire, bathing in the river or rolling in the grass dew. There would be a lot of dancing in karagods, competing in strength. A popular type of magic practiced on Kupalle night was fortune telling. The girls would put their wreaths on the water and let the river carry them. The one that would come to the bank or get entangled with another mean that there will be a marriage. Also it was believed that if you pick the leaf of plantain growing at the crossroads and put it under the pillow - you are verylikely to dream your future spouse on Kupalle night. One could burn a bunch of flux plants in Kupalle fire and chant: "Flux, give birth", to increase its crops.

It was believed once a year on Kupalle night near midnight the fern has a glowing flower - "Paparac'-kvetka". The lucky couple that would find it would live happily and would be able to foresee the future. It was believed that on Kupalle night rivers are glowing with a special light, trees can speak in the human language and even walk from place to place. It was believed that the Sunset on Kupalle night is special. The Sun sets down "playing" - dividing into concentric circles that expand and contract.

It was also believed that the witches could spoil things on this night. Different ways to protect yourself and your household were used. You could put garlands of special plants that have magical protective properties on the outside of your house. You can put into your rye burning coals from Kupalle fire. Of course the hands of working women were protected by red ornament on the sleves. Sometimes to be completely safe you have to drive all your cattle through the purifying Kupalle fire. The purifying power of Kupalle fire was so believed that people would dry out on it the shirts of the sick to cure them, or bring little children close to it to expell all bad spirits.

For those interested, you can watch a documentary "Night on Ivan Kupala" to learn more. Also here are some notes about celebration of Kupalle by Ukrainians in Canada."

Text and photo credit: Virtual Guide to Belarus Holidays and traditional celebrations in Belarus: Pagan Celebrations. With thanks.


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