On Sunday morning, Feb 8th, we walked together in unity, looping through some of the major villages around Auroville, i.e. Kottakarai, Edayanchavadi, Kuilapalayam, and ending in Udumbu, the place where Sydo lived.
Estimates range from 1500 to 2000 participants and it was a good mix. At their own initiative some villagers from Rayapudupakkam (beyond Alankuppam) participated and a resident from Periya Mudaliyarchavadi had come to provide water to the marchers in Kuilapalayam. Here and there some press folk were spotted and on strategic points police was stationed, but the entire march was quiet and peaceful, flowers were in people's hands and given out, a simple hand-painted 'ahimsa' banner was carried and participants wore little signs with words such as "division makes us weak", "violence doesn't solve anything", "we walk together in unity" in Tamil and in English.
While the idea for a 'Peace March' had originated during the community meeting of Feb 3rd, it was mainy organised by the Village Action Group team who had also distributed pamphlets in Tamil explaining the aim of the exercise: to be and walk together, to express solidarity in these trying times.
At several places villagers came forward with water and the throng was always growing. The weather collaborated by sending some good covering clouds from time to time and when we arrived at Udumbu we distributed our remaining flowers at the gate and around Sydo's house, where we sat for some time, softly chanting OM. It was a very touching moment when suddenly a group of Tamil participants spontaneously started chanting a prayer to Shiva, repeating the mantra over and over again, to finally end with OM Shanti Shanti..
Most Aurovilians then silently walked back to their places, and people from the village were transported home by AV bus.
Thank you, Sydo.