The closing ceremony of the Finno-Ugric cultural year was held in Abja-Paluoja as the historical center of Mulgimaa on Saturday. The title of Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture now goes to the Udmurt village of Baiterek. Ly Laanemets was handed the Pride of Mulgimaa 2021 award at the ceremony.
Head of the Mulgi Culture Institute Ave Grenberg, who also managed the Finno-Ugric program in Abja-Paluoja, said the year was successful despite difficult conditions everywhere in the world and brought Mulgimaa renown both home and abroad.
"The purpose of the Finno-Ugric tribal movement is to promote our shared culture and bring us closer as kinsmen," Grenberg said.
[Former] President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in his address how the Finno-Ugric world reached him 37 years ago when he arrived in Budapest with his brother on May 1 and visited the Finno-Ugric department at the local university.
Ilves talked about how Estonians live in the free world today. "It is the freedom to meet with kinsmen and speak our minds. A luxury that we today have but a lot of our Finno-Ugric brothers still lack."
Minister of Culture Tiit Terik said that Abja-Paluoja has served as the heart of culture for 25 million Finno-Ugric people this year. "The venerable title has given Mulgimaa many inspiring meetings, the chance to showcase local culture, dialect and history," the minister said in his speech.
"We weave our culture that unites through language and customs. When we think of the Finno-Ugric movement, we think of our own independence, history, roots and future and than of our kinsmen. Contributing to Finno-Ugric initiatives, we also contribute to conserving the cultural diversity of the world and help make sure small languages and peoples survive," Terik added.
The ceremony also saw the title of Pride of Mulgimaa 2021 bestowed on Ly Laanemets for conserving and promoting Mulgi cultural heritage. Ly graduated from the Estonian Agricultural Academy (EPA) as a forest management engineer in 1986. After graduating, she was appointed assistant forester at the Polli Forest District near the Latvian border where she lives to this day in the village of Lilli. Laanemets founded the Lilli Nature Center in 2006.
Editor: Marcus Turovski