Despite the existence of Buddhist influences in Russia from a long time ago, Nepalese took a while to know about them. Thanks to the initiative taken by present Russian ambassador to Nepal Dr. Sergey Velichkin, Nepalese have got the opportunity to know about the influences now.
After coming to Nepal as an ambassador, Dr. Velichkin, a scholar with South Asian expertise, has already organized a number of programs to bring Nepal and Russia together.
The timing of an exhibition set up to show this side is perfect as various countries around the world are following Buddhism. For Nepal, this is the right time to enter into relations of exchange with Russia.
As Nepal is celebrating the Visit Lumbini Year 2012, the exhibition is being organized at the Russian Culture Center to mark the birthplace of Lord Buddha and to introduce Russian Buddhist heritage and contemporary life of the Buddhist religion to Nepalese people.
Many people in the world are unfamiliar with Buddhism of Russia and rarely know about the existence of Buddhists in the largest country of the world. The Tibetan form of Buddhism, however, first spread to Russia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and since then the number of Buddhists has grown beyond a million.
“People wonder that even Russia has Buddhism but Buddhists and Buddhism have been there in Russia for centuries. It is one of the four religions accepted by the law in the country,” said Dr. Natalia Zhukovskaya, professor of Russian Academy of Sciences.
A Russian delegation from the All-Russia Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts, consisting of professors, scholars of Russian Academy of Sciences, led by curator of the exhibition Irina Kolopova and Dr. Natalia arrived in Nepal to present the exhibition.
The exhibition titled ‘Buddhism in Russia’ is being jointly organized by Russian Centre of Science and Culture, Lumbini Buddhist University of Nepal, Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, All Russian Decorative Art museum, and Russian Museum of Ethnography.
The exhibition, being held between April 27 and May 26 at the Russian Culture Centre, Kamalpokhari, was inaugurated by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, the chairman of the Greater Lumbini Development National Steering Committee.
Similar exhibitions were held in India and Bhutan in 2011 but this kind of exhibition is the first in the history of Russia-Nepal relations. “We have already exhibited it in Bhutan and India and it shows the existence of Buddhism even in Russia,” said Irina Kolopova.
According to the organizers, around 20 sacred artworks (Thankas) will be showcased in the exhibition. The showcased artworks are high-quality state-of-the-art technological replicas of the 19th century Buddhist creations, including works by Nicholas II, the last Russian Emperor, and photographs from the various Russian Museums. The works of contemporary artists used in the decorations of Buddhists temples in Russia can also be seen in the exhibition.
“The exhibition showcases historical as well as modern artifacts which are developed by using modern technology. There are also photos from various museums,” said Irina.