11/1/23 – 13/1/23
Auroville was? Good? Bad? Open? Closed? Loud? Quiet? Well, one word can sum it up, and that word is “preternatural,” funny enough. Auroville is supposed to be a globally united community centered around diversity and unity. But around the entire community was, and rather than expecting country-inspired people, everyone dressed and acted the same. Rather than being a member of the community, I felt I was being watched. I questioned a Tamalian local who grew up in Auroville about the power structure inside the community, and I related it to the Maori people’s struggle in NZ. We mainly discussed the importance of cultural retention for the Tamalian people, as I had seen that there was some controversies between them and the Auroville community. With each word I was saying I felt his demeanour shift. At the start, he was rightfully defensive, but over time listened more and more as I shared my viewpoint, and once we departed, we shook hands, and he told me he’d never forget our conversation. Maybe I changed his outlook, or maybe I haven’t.
During the visit, we were shown a solar kitchen and a textile design studio and were given a sound bath; we also went to Solitude farm, which is a farm dedicated to serving and promoting local and sustainable food. Rather than eating food grown overseas in abundance, the premise was to eat food that could grow in the local environment; for example, drumstick spinach and papaya for Tamil Nadu were produced in quantity. The idea was more sustainable than our current methods, so leaving the farm after being lectured about what I should eat was quite a surprise. To then be walking through a gift shop with eateries serving ice cream and brownies.
The Matrimandir translated to “Temple Of The Mother.” It is a large structure located in the center of the Auroville community. It is the very soul of Auroville and is not related to any religion. The beautiful sphere is used for meditative purposes, primarily which the dome centered by an optically-perfect glass globe. Surrounding the dome is an immaculate garden that’s up kept by local workers and a heavy set of rules. We were fortunate enough to have booked a viewing inside the Matrimandir, which was a surreal event. It was a room filled with white noise, with the glass globe reflecting the sunlight in the center. Inside the whole complex, Auroville has placed a heavy set of rules to allow every person a fair chance at meditating. I’m not good at meditating; my mind often wonders too easily. But inside the dome, I felt like I could block everything externally out. I felt like my thoughts, and physical being were transcending this very place; from that moment on, I hoped that I could live up to the expectations I placed on myself. My meditative topic was constantly telling myself I would not waste the opportunity.