Pitanga Cultural Centre offers activities in the fields of physical education and culture. Through the year, some 30 therapists & teachers - Aurovilians and long-term friends of Auroville - offer their services to broaden awareness and openness of the body.
“Physical culture is the process of infusing consciousness into the cells of the body.”
“Perfection is the true aim of all culture, the spiritual and psychic, the mental, the vital and it must be the aim of our physical culture also. If our seeking is for a total perfection of the being, the physical part of it cannot be left aside; for the body is the material basis, the body is the instrument which we have to use.”
Pitanga is a Cultural Centre dedicated to serving the development and enhancement of physical education and cultural activities for children and adult residents of Auroville in the light of Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga.
As a Cultural Centre, Pitanga focuses on physical and cultural education. Sri Aurobindo’s vision of a true perfection embraces all levels of life and therefore naturally also all parts of the body and vital being.
Physical education represents for us the tool by which we can aim at increasing the consciousness and receptivity of the body. Keeping the image of Pitanga’s name in Sanskrit in mind (“the one who has a yellow or golden body ”), the programme focuses on various types of Yoga Āsanas, Pranayama, Martial Arts, Classical Western & Indian dances and other health-enhancing activities for children and adults.
The most vibrant activities in this field are Yoga Āsanas and Aikido, a form of Martial Art. Yoga Āsanas are taught in different styles and offered to various levels of practitioners, from beginners to advanced students. Aikido is a path which aspires for the unity of humankind, the unification of the self with the universe, the union of Spirit and Matter. Auroville has its own branch, Aikikai, and Pitanga is proud of having been able to host this group of dedicated teachers for many years.
The programme of physical education is rounded off with a variety of treatments and therapies that aim at cleaning, rebalancing, aligning the system and reestablishing health and well-being, an integral approach towards a cultural perfection. Pitanga aims at offering a variety of treatments and therapies that address all levels of the individual being: e.g. on the physical level there are different kinds of massage as well as homeopathy and physiotherapy. These are not only beneficial for a multitude of common ailments but stimulate and trigger the body’s natural healing process. Other therapies address the individual on a mental/emotional and even spiritual level, allowing her/him to re-evaluate their life and find solutions to personal issues. These therapies include Tarot, Reflexology and Reiki, which are delicate and powerful instruments to work on one’s inner self and the subtle body.
Due to the recent promotion of “wellness” in the world, the true value and deep impact of massages and therapies became rather diluted and became more regarded as a fancy than as a therapeutic element. In the perspective of the integral development of the being as emphasized by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Pitanga is creating a counterpoint to this development by providing simple and sincere treatments that aim at releasing physical, emotional and mental problems and help the body in regaining its innate health and flexibility of joints and muscles.
Another important part of the programme at Pitanga is in providing a platform for different study groups in the field of music, art and theatre to pursue their rehearsals and studies on a regular basis. Here, both Auroville Choirs for children and for adults have been the most regular rehearsing groups and performers. Since Pitanga’s inception in 1991 the Auroville Adult Choir has been rehearsing week after week in the big hall with outstanding regularity and discipline. Initially it started with some 25 participants and is now strong with 40 regular members which since years is the biggest group working at Pitanga and a very concrete example of human unity put into joyful practice!
In addition, the building’s internal courtyard allows us to host exhibitions throughout the year. The development of art is understood as a means for spiritual growth where artists are seeking further ways of expressing their inner dimensions. Pitanga is encouraging and supporting Aurovilians to share the outcome of their research and work with the community. The interesting aspect is that these art works are not presented in a remote gallery. Everyone coming to Pitanga to participate in activities is automatically brought into contact with art.
Pitanga uses also the main big hall for the organization of different cultural performances: Classical Indian or Western music recitals, contemporary music with vocals and instruments, lectures and poetry readings are offered by resident artists as well as visiting artists from abroad.
Pitanga functions as a community service for residents of Auroville but welcomes guests whenever there is room.
Unlike other educational institutes under SAIIER, Pitanga’s activities are not based on a fixed schedule set for the whole year in advance. It rather acts as a facilitator, providing a platform where education around physical culture and cultural activities can take place responding to offers made or needs expressed. Our teachers and therapists are Aurovilians sharing with other residents their professional skills and what they really love doing and this is done, except in one instance, as a part-time work. Their engagement varies a lot: from one class per week to a daily commitment. This mostly depends on the time they have available taking into account their other regular engagements in Auroville.
Therefore Pitanga offers not a fixed curriculum but an evolving schedule of activities that is updated every month. For the last few years Pitanga and its team of 30 Aurovilians has been able to offer a steady programme of around 50-60 regular classes per week as well as some 8-10 different therapeutic treatments.
The activities take place in a building, set in a residential area of Auroville quite close to Matrimandir, with six rooms for classes and therapeutic use and a bigger hall for workshops, classes and cultural programmes. Regular classes include open classes, closed research classes, rehearsals for performances and teachers’ training groups. The diversity of activities is enriched by workshops held by volunteering teachers visiting from abroad. There are usually some 20 to 30 different workshops organized per year that are offered by long-term friends of Auroville. The professional input of these qualified teachers and practitioners is very much appreciated.
About 25% of the activities are focused on children and teenagers. These classes form a part of the sports programme at school where the child can choose a particular type of exercise according to her/his liking. At Pitanga, children from the age of 6 years upward and teenagers up to 18 years can choose to participate in the following activities: Aikido, Odissi Dance, Yoga Āsanas, Discovery Games of the Energy Body, Gymnastics.
1. Physical Education
- Yoga Asanas
- Martial Arts
- Eastern and Western dance
- Health exercises from different traditions
2. Health care
- Various massages
3. Cultural activities
- Art exhibitions
- Evening performances
4. Cultural education for
- Different choir practices for
children and adults
- Dance classes for children
- Theatre rehearsals
- Art class in Japanese