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RN Documentary: Pagans and Patriarchs

From: Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Series: RN Documentaries
Length: 29:30

The revival of ancient pre-Christian rites and rituals in post-communist Russia.

11391599_small Since the fall of communist Russia has seen a rebirth of religious worship, especially in the once so powerful Russian Orthodox Church. But the Russian Federation is home to a vast diversity of cultures, with their own languages and religions. Some of these are now being revived after centuries of repression. While younger generations tend to see these ancient traditions as folklore, the older generations see them as religious rites. As part of the Saint Petrovo?s Day rite among the Finnic-speaking people of Mari-El on the middle Volga, for example, bearded men in embroidered cloaks and women in traditional attire gather in the forest to sacrifice a sheep and bring offering before a tall birch tree. The Russian Orthodox Church denounces these practices, but some of these local groups are hoping for more understanding and support from the authorities, perhaps even official recognition of their so-called ?pagan? and shamanist beliefs. Bill Gasperini plumbs the depths of the situation in Pagans and Patriarchs.

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Piece Description

Since the fall of communist Russia has seen a rebirth of religious worship, especially in the once so powerful Russian Orthodox Church. But the Russian Federation is home to a vast diversity of cultures, with their own languages and religions. Some of these are now being revived after centuries of repression. While younger generations tend to see these ancient traditions as folklore, the older generations see them as religious rites. As part of the Saint Petrovo?s Day rite among the Finnic-speaking people of Mari-El on the middle Volga, for example, bearded men in embroidered cloaks and women in traditional attire gather in the forest to sacrifice a sheep and bring offering before a tall birch tree. The Russian Orthodox Church denounces these practices, but some of these local groups are hoping for more understanding and support from the authorities, perhaps even official recognition of their so-called ?pagan? and shamanist beliefs. Bill Gasperini plumbs the depths of the situation in Pagans and Patriarchs.

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Review of RN Documentary: Pagans and Patriarchs

This documentary succeeds in transporting me to the other side of the world, and into the vast forests of Russia where ancient pagan rites are being performed for the first time in centuries. The reporter builds scenes with sound, music, and actualities spoken in unfamiliar and exotic languages. The rituals are examined from within?with voices of participants and religious leaders, and from the outside?by folklorists and historians. The reporter?s narration is straightforward and informational, and it does get overly ?ethnographic? at times. He attends three different rites, and sets each of them up in a similar fashion; for variety it would have been nice to try a different approach with each example. The return of these pagan rites is controversial, and the reporter handles the controversy well?although fairly late in the piece. Despite this, and the occasional uninspired voice-over translation, this piece is an enjoyable and worthwhile journey.

Transcript

PAGANS AND PATRIARCHS: NATIVE RELIGIONS of the VOLGA DOCUMENTARY

BROADCAST DATE: FEBRUARY 8, 2006

PRODUCTION NUMBER: 1007065 DURATION: 29'30"

Note: "SD:" = Soundbite . Continuity narrative is in one script, recorded actualities from
other speakers is in another.

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SOUND OF WOMEN SINGING

Radio Netherlands presents: "Pagans and Patriarch", the revival of pre-Christian religions in Russia today.

INTRO:
TRK01A: As the world's largest country, Russia is actually a vast federation consisting of 88 separate regions, most of which are home to ethnic groups speaking their own languages and practicing distinct cultural traditions. These include religious beliefs that were repressed under the atheistic Soviet state, and that even toda...
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Musical Works

All music recorded on the scene.

Related Website

http://www2.rnw.nl/rnw/en/features/cultureandhistory/060208doc