SAIIER 2016:Pitanga Cultural Centre

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Mitra Youth Hostel
SAIIER Annual Report 2015-16 icon.jpg

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Savitri Bhavan
Pitanga Cultural Centre


Pitanga Cultural Centre dedicates its service to the development and enhancement of physical education and cultural activities in the light of Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga.

Pitanga offers a support for community members and registered guests of Auroville to explore and work with their bodies through physical education offering an extensive program of regular yoga, dance, body work, martial arts classes, and health treatments. Pitanga also hosts cultural programs of exhibitions films and concerts that helps to develop other aspects of the being. Pitanga offers a free service to adults and Children, 6 days a week, that helps people to unfold to their fullest potential especially in-terms of their bodies.

Beauty, harmony and attention to detail are values that are fostered in the atmosphere of the centre.

Activities of the year

Pitanga Cultural Centre offers a rich range of on-going activities. Our regular classes and health activities during this past year included:

Yoga classes

  1. Iygengar Yoga
  2. Hatha Yoga
  3. Vinyasa Flow Yoga
  4. Pranayama
  5. Dharma Vinyasa Flow
  6. Prana Vidya Hatha Yoga
  7. Hormonal Yoga


  1. Ballet for adults
  2. Belly dancing
  3. Odissi Dance


  1. Pilates
  2. Kickboxing
  3. Aviva exercise for women
  4. Discover energy body
  5. Abdominal toning
  6. Self-defense
  7. Meditation
  8. Aikido

Health treatments

  1. Acupuncture treatment
  2. Psychomotor relaxation
  3. Psychotherapy and Hypnosis
  4. Somatic Therapy
  5. Cranio-Sacral Therapy
  6. Homeopathic Service
  7. Journey to the memory of the body
  8. Naturopathy and Cupping
  9. Natural facial treatment
  10. Reconnective healing
  11. Reflexology
  12. Releasing through Awareness
  13. Reiki
  14. Spiritual Healing
  15. Thai Yoga Massage
  16. Suction/Cupping massage
  17. Experiential anatomy
  18. Oil massage

Occasional activities held in the last year included:

Date Event Artist / Organizer Origin
Apr 16th, 2015 Following Sounds Clémentine and Jurriaan Auroville
Jan 2nd, 2016 Music and Silence Shastro and Ashaman Auroville
Jan 9th Music and Silence Shastro and Ashaman Auroville
Jan 16th Music and Silence Shastro and Ashaman Auroville
Jan 23rd Music and Silence Shastro and Ashaman Auroville
Jan 28th Hindustani Vocal Concert Sonali Biswas India
Jan 30th Music and Silence Shastro and Ashaman Auroville
Feb 4th Piano Concert Hartmut Auroville
Feb 6th Music and Silence Shastro and Ashaman Auroville
Feb 13th Jazz reflections Marlenka, Ashaman, Matt Auroville
Date Event Artist / Organizer Origin
Aug 13th, 2015 "Evolution Fast-Forward 1" Manoj Pavitran Auroville
Aug 18th "Evolution Fast-Forward 2" Manoj Pavitran Auroville
Aug 20th "Leap of faith" (BKS Iyengar) Tatiana Auroville
Dec 10th "Forks Over Knives" Veronica/Bridget/Jane Auroville
Dec 17th "The Truth About Cancer" Film Series Veronica/Bridget/Jane Auroville
Jan 7th, 2016 "The Truth About Cancer" Film Series Veronica/Bridget/Jane Auroville
Date Event Artist / Organizer Origin
April 5th, 2015 Deepanam School students' art and craft exhibition Deepanam School Auroville
Jul 24th Dancing Waves in Color Manju Selvam Auroville
Aug 22nd Agni Art Elena Russia
Aug 1st Terra del Sud, Memories of the South Aloe Tormo Mir Auroville
Sept 9th Ceramics Priya Sundaravalli Auroville
Sep 28th Life in Focus Edward Chinniah S.L. India
Nov 7th The LOST and found in colours Kanchan Hande Pondicherry
Nov 28th Notes water colour and ink drawings Helene Auroville
Dec 26th Offerings Mridula Vichitra India
Jan 31st, 2016 Memoires d'Aurore Lalie Sorbet Auroville
Jan 16th Mother, goddess and little girl Kranti Cheon India
Feb 27th Intuitive paintings Marie-Claire Barsotti Auroville
Feb 6th White light dark matter Aamit Auroville
Date Event Teacher Origin of Teacher
Aug 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2015 Iyengar Yoga - “Reconnection” Tatiana Tolochkova Auroville
Nov 15th Introduction to Pranayama Tatiana Tolochkova Auroville
Dec 12th and 13th Thai Yoga Massage Training Bebe Merino & Itzhak Helman Auroville
Jan 23rd, 2016 Iyengar Yoga - “Sequencing” Tatiana Tolochkova Auroville
Jan 8th, 9th, 10th Iyengar Yoga Tatiana Tolochkova Auroville
Jan 29th and 30th Thai Yoga Massage Training Bebe Merino & Itzhak Helman Auroville

Highlights of the year included:

  1. Pranayama training at Iyengar Institute: Thanks to kind sponsorship through the Foundation for World Education, our Iyengar teachers, Angela and Tatiana, were able to attend in-depth training at the Iyengar institute in Pune with specific emphasis on Pranayama. They both greatly benefited from this exposure and were then able to integrate the teachings into their classes. Tatiana offered a number of themed workshops afterwards where students could deepen their practice, and an enlarged pranayama class.
  2. Dance: We were able to expand the range of dance classes in our regular schedule to include Ballet with Grace and Bellydancing with Priscilla.
  3. Cultural Activities: The year saw an increase in cultural program compared with last year, with 6 extra exhibitions, 4 extra community presentations and one extra concert.
  4. Personal development: In the area of personal development, our workers enjoyed summer English classes and Stewardship for New Emergence training. Our ammas also hosted a workshop on floral arranging where they taught techniques to the ammas and team of Unity Pavilion, thus sharing skills and supporting the premise that each one is a teacher as well as student.


The new visa legislation in India has greatly affected Pitanga’s service as it is no longer possible for someone on a tourist visa to legally volunteer in India. For over 25 years the Auroville community has enjoyed, each year, a range of activities enriched by visiting teachers and therapists who volunteered their skills as a contribution towards unending education. This provided a rich repository of shared teachings and skills that helped renew the community and offer diversity. It is now no longer possible for international teachers and therapists on tourist visas to offer their free service to the community. This has dramatically affected the programs offered, especially in season time. The table below shows the number of Pitanga classes and activities offered this year compared with last year. Most notably, weekly yoga classes offered in January fell by 16, and the annual figure for workshops is down by 30.

Comparison between April-March 2015 and April-March 2016

Regular Activity Type Weekly classes, January 2015 Weekly classes, January 2016 Weekly increase or decrease
Yoga 40 24 -16
Dance 3 4 +1
Martial Arts 8 1 -7
Exercise 3 5 +2
Occasional Activity Type Activity total, 2015 Activity total, 2016 Annual increase or decrease
Exhibitions 7 13 +6
Concerts 11 10 +1
Workshops 36 6 -30
Community presentations and films 2 6 +4

In the summer holidays of 2015, we finished extensive improvements to the infrastructure of Pitanga which included two new parking sheds, paving of walkway, new shelving and sliding door systems in the main activities hall, and the creation of ornamental and edible gardens with irrigation systems. We also termite-proofed the entire building.

The edible garden is beginning to provide fruit and vegetables that will be offered to students after class in an effort to promote well-being and increase awareness about the nutritional content of what one can easily grow. The compost area is being shared with Samasti community.


The situation with the new visa regulations has significantly impacted our service and inhibited the variety of what we can offer in season; it also disappoints many old friends who have offered their skills for many years as their contribution to enriching Auroville. However, every challenge is not without an opportunity, and the Pitanga team will endeavour to reach further into the community to identify and support those who may be able to fill the gaps in the programming for the coming year.

The opportunities given to our workers to use the summer quieter months to enrich their personal development helped create an enabling environment in Pitanga that increased the confidence levels of our team and helped foster creativity and accountability. We will continue to keep their development as one of our priorities.


We are grateful to be part of the wider SAIIER body and to offer our service as a thread in the web of Auroville’s unending education. We will endeavor to give the best service possible for the coming year with joy and dedication as an offering to help community members to grow in awareness and development in all aspects of their being.

“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.”[1]

Sri Aurobindo

  1. “Perfection of the Body”, The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Vol. 13: Essays in Philosophy and Yoga, p.521