As the Russia-Ukraine War enters its fourth week, the Maslenitsa Pancake folk festival in Nikola-Lenivets in the Kaluga region of Russia culminated last week in a huge bonfire that immolated the Tower of Babel.
The effigy, designed by Yekaterina Polyakova, was significantly less majestic than its Biblical counterpart, made from wooden shipping pallets and straw, topping out at 23 meters.
“We want it to be an event that brings people together and helps them get through what is going on in the world,” Ivan Polissky, manager of the park said to media. “We have to adjust the program- there is no place for frivolous fun. This year, Pancake Day is not a holiday, not a joyful carnival, but an artistic statement.”
“It so happened that the very Tower of Babel was never completed because of the discord between people and entire nations,” Polyakova said. “The current one … serves as a modern symbol for such disunity.”
The young architect, whose design was chosen in a lengthy process, seems to have misunderstood the Biblical story she chose as the centerpiece of the religious festival. The sin of the builders was not, as she stated, “disunity” but, rather, unity in an effort to challenge and dislodge the rule of heaven.
Yaakov Hayman, the chairman of the Temple Movements, explained that like the original Tower of Babel, the effigy in Russia was an acceptable action with an unacceptable intention.
“God wants us to come together and architecture is a part of that,” Hayman, who is a manager of building projects by profession, said. “The highest form of this was (and will be) the Temple in Jerusalem as a ‘house of prayer for all nations.’ We don’t worship the building. It is a container for what we do there.”
“The United Nations is a replay of the Tower of Babel and this anti-God disunity is epitomized by and focused on how they treat the Temple Mount,” Hayman said. “The cure for global disunity is the Temple in Jerusalem. There is no other cure and no shortcuts.”
The tradition of burning large objets d’art was initiated in 2001. The tradition is part of Maslenitsa, also called Shrovetide, the oldest surviving Slavic holiday celebrated during the last week before Great Lent, that is, the eighth week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha. The festival has retained a number of elements of Slavic mythology in its ritual. Celebrations feature the baking of traditional pancakes, sleigh rides, sparring between groups of men, and, finally, the burning of an effigy of Lady Maslenitsa.
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