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Bells Chiming over Moldova

For the first time in Moldova an international contest named the Bell-Ringer of the World took place in the village of Hirtopul Mare located 29 km from Chisinau. 35 bell-ringers from 9 countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Poland, the USA, Cyprus and Romania participated in the contest. Many people all over the world like the sound of a bell chiming and so the event attracted a lot of those who were eager to listen to the best bell-ringers of the world. The country-seat museum Satul Moldovenesc, which received both participants and guests, for two days looked like a small Moldovan Haiti. The guests who arrived at the holiday (among them there were members of the Government of Moldova, Metropolitan Church dignitaries, representatives of Russian and Belarussian embassies) could completely plunge into the life of the event and enjoy the real beauty of the lake on whose left bank exotic reed-roofed terraces had been built. On the right bank of the lake the stands for listeners divided into sections were located. Up the hill one could see a number of houses covered with reed roofs and built in the Moldovan national style. Those who wished could stay at the houses for a certain price. By the way, in Denmark and Sweden only wealthy people can afford to build a house with a reed roof. It is believed that one can breathe easier in a reed-roofed house.

Next to the stands there were small tables with a reed awning over them where a variety of handicrafts by Moldovan skilled craftsmen were exhibited. Also, there were small cozy cafes where leading Moldovan producers offered their best products. The smell of barbecue, fried fish and sweet hot wine was spreading in the air.

In the very center, on the bank of the lake there was a recently built belfry with 12 bells. The weight of the biggest bell amounted to 524 kg and it was an exact copy of the Annunciation bell, which is at present in Arkhangelsk (Russia). The smallest bell weighed about 4 kg. All 12 bells had been molded at the Minsk plant “Otmennoe Litie” (Belarus). The belfry itself had been designed by a famous Belarussian architect Sergey Yakubovsky for a surprisingly short period of time. 30 Moldovan builders had to work hard for a month and a half to erect that unique construction. According the Sergey Yakubovsky there is no analogy to it in the whole world.

The first bells appeared in Russia in the 11th century. The sound of the bells in the lands of Kyivan Rus was considered to be miraculous and warned people about the invasion of the Tartar-Mongol hordes. According to historians bells came to Russia from the Byzantine Empire. The church gave them their due and it was decided to mould the bells throughout Russia. Bell moulding was a real art and a lot of masters whose marks can be found on the bells even today took the secret of the moulding process with them. That is why people had to revive the art a new.

Before the festival opened Metropolitan of Chisinau and all Moldova Vladimir and a group of priests held a service and blessed the belfry. Vladimir Voronin, the President of Moldova, opened the festival with symbolic chimes. Mr.Voronin welcomed both participants and guests and mentioned that the festival was one of the events, which were taking place all over the Republic of Moldova with the purpose of collecting money for the reconstruction of the Capriana Monastery.

The International School of Bell-ringers will soon open on the basis of the belfry. The school is believed to be of great importance to the orthodox churches of many countries of the world, particularly to those of the Balkan region.

The festival lasted for two days and attracted about seven thousand visitors. The bell-ringer from Arkhangelsk, Oleg Yunin ranked 1st. Elena Shat’ko from Belarus and Father Feodosii from Kyiv-Pecherskaya Lavra Monastery ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively. Our compatriot, Denis Latyshev, was recognized as the best bell-ringer among the young. Other participants of the festival received valuable presents and memorable statuettes with the image of the Moldovan belfry.

Ludmila Mamaliga
Translated by Vlada Popushoi

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