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24 April 2009

Bell-ringing in Tomsk

On April 24th, eighteen international students of the Institute for International Education and Language Communication gathered together in downtown Tomsk, near the Epiphany Cathedral, in order to learn about Paschal customs of Russian Orthodox Christians.

A student of the Tomsk Theological Seminary served as a tour guide and escorted guests through the upper level of the Epiphany church. He described the structure of an Orthodox Church building, introduced guests to some basics of Orthodox culture, and explained the meaning of some significant Paschal traditions.

One of the traditions that still exists in Russia, is that during the week after Pascha anyone may climb the bell tower, ring the bells, and surprise the surrounding people with one’s talent. International students not only surprised one another, but even themselves with their bell-ringing ability. Not being familiar with the principles of Paschal bell ringing, they bravely pulled the ropes tied to the tongues of the small and medium-sized bells, and stepped on the pedals which control the largest bells. Some students formed small groups and helped each other to come closer to the desired result. Hence, instead of one person controlling the entire operation of the bells, there were sometimes three, or even four people, each of whom represented a special musical school: Korean, Chinese, Italian, Czech, Slovak, or Austrian.

The students of IIELC would have remained longer to gladden the city of Tomsk with their improvisations, but the constraints of time did not allow them to stay at the bell tower as long as they would have liked. Further on, at the Museum of Church Archeology, the students had an opportunity to see rare editions of Orthodox Service Books, some Orthodox vestments, a collection of ancient icons, and also models of Tomsk’s first churches.


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