Belarusian Diaspora Marks 100th Anniversary of Independence

(Photo by Viktor Dudarev via Forum Daily)

The Republic of Belarus as an independent state was founded in August 1991, yet the evolution of Belarusian statehood began long before that date, and in fact, is more than a few centuries old. Its roots go back to the 10th century, the time that the principalities of Polotsk and Turovo-Pinsk were formed.

It was much later, however, in the spring of 1918, when the Belarusians officially proclaimed themselves as a free state. The proclamation of independence took place during the time of the German occupation, therefore, the newly-founded Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR) failed to assert its sovereignty in the international arena, and as a result, soon fell under the power of the Bolsheviks. Nevertheless, these events which took place 100 years ago are considered significant milestones in European history, and are widely celebrated among Belarusians in different countries throughout the world.

According to sources, more than half a million immigrants from Belarus are currently residing in the United States. Though not the largest of ethnic groups present on the North American continent, it is definitely one whose members carefully preserve their centuries-old cultural traditions and native language.

The Belarusians of New York, New Jersey and Washington were among the most active participants of the 100th independence anniversary celebration in Belarus. Members of the diaspora from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Florida, Illinois and other states also came to the event.

(Photo by Taylor Hines via Forum Daily)

Various activities took place on the eve of the celebration, i.e., festive gatherings and exhibitions, sporting events and concerts, culinary parties showcasing traditional Belarusian food such as “draniki” (potato pancakes), announcements via video greetings from Belarusians residing in different corners of the earth, a bicycle race in Manhattan, and even skydiving with the national flag over Long Island!

In addition, the Belarusians in New York, together with their fellow Americans, organized the “Voices of Freedom” video project; its purpose was to introduce the poetry of modern Belarusian poets to the public in both the original Belarusian language and also in English translation. All poetry read at the event was thematically connected with the theme of freedom in its various manifestations.

Moreover, the celebration is not finished yet! – Festive events organized by members of the Belarusian diaspora in America will last until the end of the calendar year.

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