Estonia's Ingerian Finns community holds song and dance festival

Ingrian Finns held their song and dance festival at Padise Monastery in Harju County, Estonia.
Ingrian Finns held their song and dance festival at Padise Monastery in Harju County, Estonia. Source: Pressimaterjal

The Ingrian Finns community in Estonia held its 32nd Song and Dance Festival at Padise Monastery to celebrate, preserve, and promote its culture.

Community groups gathered from across Estonia to celebrate last weekend and the event started with a procession, featuring the red, yellow, and blue flag, followed by a song and dance party.

The Ingrian Finns are another branch of the Finno-Ugric family that Estonians and Finns belong to. They settled in the territory of today's St. Petersburg in the 17th century. During the Soviet era, they survived repression and deportation and in the 1990s the majority of them emigrated to Finland.

"The Ingrian Finns are a bridge between Estonia and Finland, embodying our common cultural space," said Hannele Valkeeniemi, CEO of the Finnish Institute. 

"However, it is the least well-known of Finland's bridge pillars, as many of the Ingrian Finns who moved to Finland are "Finnized" and those in Estonia "Estonianized". Therefore, a combined dance and song festival is of the utmost importance, providing a sense of belonging, creating and renewing a culture that Stalin's time tried to destroy."

Ingrian Finns song and dance festivals have been held in Estonian since 1921 with the aim of bringing the community together from across the region. The events restarted in 1991 and now aim to preserve their culture and introduce it to a wider audience.

Arvo Iho, a film director with Ingerian roots, explained why the activity involvement of the local diaspora that moved to Estonia and their dependents is important.

"It gives peace of mind. For older people, it gives a sense of belonging, and for younger people who may not have appreciated it at all, it gives a new depth," said Iho.

A fashion collection by Stella Tukia, who discovered her Ingrian heritage while studying at the Estonian Academy of Arts, was also presented.

The event took place on July 9.


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Editor: Kerttu Kaldoja, Helen Wright

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