KURSA – 2013: A Latvian Celebration in Shelton, WA



Click SLIDE SHOW: snaps of Latvian Children attending KURSA-2013.



Latvia and it’s capitol, Riga, are a long way from the Pacific NW. There are about 2 million people in the tiny, but fiercely independent nation. Only roughly half are Latvian. The others are largely unwelcome ethnic Russians given the keys to the country by Stalin not long after WWI. With perestroika, glasnost, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ancient Latvian people are once again free from tyranny and Communist oppression. What makes this miracle all the more amazing for a fertile but flat land devoid of natural barriers to invading armies from its much larger neighbors is only 1 in every 7,000 people on the planet is a Latvian speaking native–an ancient people long predating the Russians themselves and a virtual endangered ‘species’.

The Latvian people’s antipathy toward their ethnic immigrant Russian interlopers might be more easily understood given their recent WWII hardships caught between the Communists to the east and the Nazis to the west. Their love for their land, their language, their heritage, traditions, history, culture and, above all, their children, stands as a remarkable example of courage in the face of adversity.

In the wake of WWII, those Latvian refugees who survived became part of a diaspora. Many struggled to arrive in the U.S. where they remain today. Although they left their home thousands of miles away, they continue to maintain a bond to their kin and countrymen. They encourage their children, 2nd and 3rd generation Latvians, to do the same. Part of this article of faith resides in the Latvian Village situated a few miles outside of Shelton, WA, abutting a large parcel where State Prisoners are housed in a penal/corrections institution. For all that, the Latvian Village property is beautiful, lush, and covered with firs, a lake, streams, and a climate somewhat milder, but reminiscent of the home they were forced to leave behind. Some still make pilgrimages to Latvia to attend cultural festivals. Those who cannot manage that expense often send their children for several weeks to the Latvian Village summer camp held exclusively to promote the Latvian language (related to Sanskrit and believed to have migrated up the Indus valley thousands of years ago), their ancient tribal history, customs, dress, dance, and music.

Through the magic of modern multimedia communication technology, you can see, hear, and perhaps feel some of the bright spirit with which they imbue their children, hoping to preserve what is precious in both.

The 15 or so video clips posted on Youtube are from the culminating event/performance of the KURSA dance/music festival from which children are ultimately awarded a graduation certificate after years of summer attendance, work, and the fun of each other’s company as kindred spirits.  HD DVD’s of the performance and snaps may be purchased from Maija Reikstins, the Latvian Village music director. All proceeds will go to the Latvian Village only and scholarships for the Latvian children who could not otherwise attend.

A full Latvian:English translation of the lyrics, as well as links to a slide show of snaps taken at the event can be found at: amicuscuria.com/wordpress/?p=10969

The first 5 or so clips are largely the invocation, prayer, awards of recognition, diplomas, acknowledgments, and attributions of those who made the event possible and participated. The children’s names can be heard. The spelling of the same is beyond my ken as I don’t speak the language.

It’s self evident the camp building used to host this event was not a studio. Hence, the lighting is difficult, hard to reach, and the fire exit signs need a bag over their heads during the performance. Some concessions were made to the photographer in blacking out the windows and doors which would have back lit the subjects. There were too many folding metal chairs unnecessarily within the frames, but the children were universally beautiful and gave a stunning performance for all of only 3-weeks they had to learn a language in which they were not fluent. Thus, except in the dance numbers, their eyes (and windows to their souls) are averted downward to read the Latvian songs they perform. There were many tears and hugs at the end while they bid their goodbyes to one another. Norman Rockwell could scarcely have created a warmer ambiance for his subjects. Roll over, Beethoven!…all this heartfelt goodness is available to you only through your local Latvian Village, right here in the woodsy glens of Mason County.

Kursa-2013 @ Latvian Village, Shelton

MĀRAS  MIĶELI  MĀRTIŅI                    

KURSAS PROGRAMMA  2013 g. 3. augustā                             CLOSING PROGRAM                                                                                                                        KURSA Aug. 3, 2013

Dziesma:  Nāk’ Rudentiņis   t.dz.                                 Song: Autumn is coming                                                                                                                                           (folk song)

Māras diena iezīmē vasaras beigas, ražas             Maras Day signals the end of                                                                                                      summer

vākšanas laiks,un ka dabā sākas pirmās               and the beginning of harvest.                                                                                                    Mara cares

vēsuma jausmas.  Māra rūpējās par visu              for all living things and works Laima,                                                                                  with who

būtību un strādā kopā ar Laimu. Un, ja līdz         determines the fates. And, if šim laikam meita nav saderēta,                                  by this time of year, a                                                                                                                   maiden  is not betrothed, she                                                                                                     will have

tad būs jāgaida uz nākamo gadu.                               to wait for another year.

Līgo saule vakarā,  līgo gani sētiņā                                         The evening sun sways, the                                                                                                                shepherds sway in

Līgo pati mīļa Māra  telītēm vārtu vērt.                               the yard. Mara sways as she                                                                                                               opens the gates for the calf.

Salmi čaukst, salmi čaukst, kas tos salmus čaukstināja?   The straw crackles-who is                                                                                                                   crackling the straw?

Mīļa Māra čaukstināja, sav’ telītes barodama.                    Dear Mara crackles the straw,                                                                                                           feeding the calves.

Kas iemeta zelta rīksti manā govu laidarā?                          Who has thrown a golden rod                                                                                                             into my stockyard?

Mīļa Māra iemetuse raibaliņas skaitīdama.                          Dear Mara threw it as she                                                                                                                  counted the spotted cows.

Gotiņ, mana raibuliņa, kas tev raibi norakstīja?                 My spotted cow, who made those                                                                                                       spots?

Svētā Māra norakstīja, svētu rītu ganīdama,                       Mara made the spots, as she                                                                                                             herded them on a blessed morn.

Mīļa Māra rotajasi  mūsu jumta virsiņāi                              Dear Mara plays upon our roof

Mīļa Māra mums jautāja, kādu dzīru mēs dzeram;            She asks what drink do we have?

Nāc  iekšā, mīļa Māra!                                                             Come in, dear Mara!

Mīļa Māra mani sauca: Nāc meitiņa sieviņās!                      Mara calls me to come to wife

Es neiešu, mīļa Māra, vairāk sievu, ne meitiņu.                 I will not, Mara, many wives- few                                                                                                      maidens.

Svētā Māra, gausā Māra  nāc pa logu istabāi                     Blessed Mara, lingering, come                                                                                                           through the window into the room

Jau māmiņa galdu klāja pirmajai meitiņai.                         Mother already lays the table for                                                                                                       her first daughter.

Kas rīb, kas brauc, gar istabiņu?                                          Who rattles, who goes by the                                                                                                              room?

Svētā Māra rībēja, svētā Māra brauzdeja.                          Dear Mara rattles, Mara rustles.

Nāk, Māra, iekšā, svinības dzērt.                                         Come inside Mara, share our                                                                                                              celebration.

DZIESMA:  Pie Dieviņu gari Galdi- t.dz.                  SONG: God has full tables                                                                                                            – folk song

Miķeļi iezīmē rudens saulgriežus. Nu saule        Mikel marks the fall equinox.                                                                                                   The sunlight

dilst, un tumsa pieauga. Iesaistīts ir ražas          shortens, the dark lengthens.                                                                                                    Celebrations mark the                                                                                                                  harvests. Jumis is heralded in                                                                                                  the

novākšana izdarības un svinības. Jumis tiek      harvesting. At this time, the                                                                                                      regional fairs

godināts lauku novākšanā. Šinī laikā notiek       are held where folk may buy                                                                                                      new implements,

pagastu tautas tirgi, kur ļaudis var iegādāties    handiwork, livestock, and etc.                                                                                           Here young

darbu rīkus, rokdarbus, lopus, utt. Te ari             people meet each other and      jaunieši satiekās un priecājās.                                   share good times.                                                                                                    

Trīs Miķeļi bungas sita vārtu staba galiņā;                         Mikels’ drums hit the gateposts

Nākat,  meitas, skatīties, kur sitās maizes tēvi.                  Come girls, look how the fathers                                                                                                        work!

Lieldieniņa, liela sieva, tā atnāca tukšu roku;                     Easter was a big day, she came                                                                                                          empty handed

Miķelītis, mazs vīriņš, tas atnāca pilnu roku.                      Mikel, a little man, he came with                                                                                                        full hands

Miķelītis, bagāts vīriņš, tas atnāca zābakos.                       Mikel, a rich man, he came                                                                                                                 wearing boots.

Jānīts dienu sasēdēja, ar Jēkabu  runādams.                     Janis sat the day, talking with                                                                                                           Jekabs.

Jānīts skaita siena kaudzes, Jēkabs savas rudzu kaudzes  Janis counted his hay stacks,                                                                                                              Jekobs counted his rye bunches.

Miķelītis nokliedzās auzu kaudzes galiņā.                            Mikel cried aloud on top of his                                                                                                            wheat stacks.

DEJA:                                                                                                     DANCE:

Es izcepu kukulīti, vidū dūru caurumiņu;                            I baked a loaf, poked a hole in the                                                                                                       middle.

Es mielošu Miķeļīti caurumainu kukulīti.                             I will serve Mikel an indented                                                                                                             loaf.

Jānīšam alu daru no sējiņas paliekiem;                                 Beer was made for Janis from                                                                                                           leftover seeds

Darīš alu Miķeļam no jauniem miezīšiem.                            Mikel’s beer is made from new                                                                                                           grains

Ak tu Miķelīti, salds gan ir tavs alutiņš.                                Oh, Mikel, how sweet is your                                                                                                              beer!

Trīs graudiņi,sešas mucas, caur saknēm tecināts.              Three grains in six barrels,                                                                                                                 filtered through the roots.

Miķelītis kas par vīru, iet pa ceļu dancodams;                     Mikel, what a man! He goes                                                                                                               dancing down the road

Miežu svārki, rudzu krekliņš, apenīša cepurīt’.                   Coat of wheat, shirt of rye, a hat                                                                                                       of hops.

DZIESMA:  Div’ pļaviņas es nopļāvu – t.dz.             SONG: Two fields I plowed –                                                                                                    folk song

 Rudzu druva lielījāsi nolocīt man muguriņu.                       The rye field boasts that it will                                                                                                          break my back

Smagas vārpas, viegli stiebri, pļāvējam kājas lauž.           Heavy  heads, light stalks, will                                                                                                           break the harvesters’ legs.

Nelielies, rudzu druva, es sanemšu  dziedama.                 Don’t boast so, rye field; I will                                                                                                             gather you singing.

DEJA:  SPRIGUĻA SIŠANA                                              DANCE: Threshing game

Visu dienu Jumi dzinu pār to visu tīrumiem.                       All day I chased Jumis over the                                                                                                         entire field

Tur sadzina, tur saņēma pie tā lielā akmentiņa.                 Chased him and caught him by the                                                                                                     big rock.

Pie tā lielā aknemtiņa tīrumiņa vidiņā.                                  By the big rock in the middle of                                                                                                          the field.

Bēdz, Jumīti, bēdz, Jumīti, meitas dzina pakaļā;                  Run, Jumi, run! Girls are at your                                                                                                      back!

Ja nevari citur bēgt,bēdz gubiņas galiņā!                              If you can’t escape, run onto the                                                                                                        stack’s top!

Bēdz, Jumīti, bēdz Jumīti, puiši dzina pakaļā;                      Run, Jumi, run! Boys are at your                                                                                                        back!

Ja nevari citur bēgt, bēdz klētiņas cekulā!                            If you can’t escape, run into the                                                                                                        storehouse crest!

DEJA:                                                                                                     Dance:


Nu, rudens beidzās, visi lauku darbi                       Well, autumn ends. All the                                                                                                         field work is done.

 padarīti, klēts ir pārpildīts ar ražu, gotiņas visas        The storehouse is filled                                                                                                                 with grains and hay, all

ir stallī, lopi nosargāti savās vietās….nakts palieka    the livestock are in their                                                                                                               barns. The nights

gari un tumši  un mēs dzirdam…. Mārtiņš nāk!     grow long and dark.. and we                                                                                                      hear- Martins arrives!

Eit ārā, eit ārā, kas ārā rībināja?                                            Go outside, go outside, who                                                                                                                 rumbles outside?

Mārtiņš savus kumeliņus uz istabu dancināja.                    Martin brings his horses to dance                                                                                                       in the room.

Vakar Mārtiņs, no Rīgas, laidās, šodien sētā ierībināja.       Last night, Martin arrived from                                                                                                        Riga. Today he rumbles into the                                                                                                        yard.

Deviņi rati, simts kumeliņi, trīssimts sulaiņu, bruņoti vīri.   Nine carriages, 100 horses, 300                                                                                                         armored servants.

Atbrauca Mārtiņš, atrībināja, pakāra mēteli vārtu             Martin arrived, shook, hung his stuburā.                                                                                      coat on the gatepost.

Aizbrauca Mārtiņš norībēja, aiznesa mēteli zobena         Martin leaves, rumbles, carries his galā.                                                                                         coat on tip of his sword.

Ei Mārtiņ, labais vīrs,baro manus kumeliņus.                  O Martin, good man, feed my                                                                                                             horses.

Sukādams, barodams, sēsties  siles galiņā.                        Comb them, feed them, seated at                                                                                                       the manger’s end.

Devu, devu, Mārtiņam,ko es biju solījusi                           I gave to Martin what I had                                                                                                                promised.

Melnu vistu kankarainu  ar visiem nadziņiem.                   A black tattered chicken,  with all                                                                                                      the claws.

Cekulainu vistu kāvu Mārtinīša vakarā                               A crested chicken was killed on                                                                                                          Martin’s eve

Lai aug man raibas govis kā vistiņas cekulainas.                So that my cows will grow as the                                                                                                       the chicken’s crests.

Paldies devu Dieviņam,man rociņa labi  gāja;                     I give thanks to God; my hand did                                                                                                     well.

Pilna kūts govju, vēršu, pilns stallītis kumeļiņu.                  A barn full of cows, stalls full of                                                                                                         horses

Dietu, deitu, saiminiece, Mārtinīša vakarā.                          Dance, dance, our hostess, on                                                                                                             Martins’ eve

Lai telītes  dietu veda par vasaru  tīrumā.                           So that our calves will dance in                                                                                                           the summer’s fields.


DEJA:                                                                                                     DANCE:

Ej Mārtiņ, nu uz Rīgu, nu mēs tevi  pavadām;                      Go, Martin, now to Riga. We will                                                                                                         see you out.

Nāc atkal citu gadu, tad mēs tevi gaidīsim.                           Come again another year, we will                                                                                                      await you.

Visi saka, visi saka; Mārtiņdiena, Mārtiņdiena!                   All say, all say, Martin day!                                                                                                                Martin Day!

Kad varētu Mārtiņdienu aiz ausīm noturēt!                         If only I could hold on to Martin                                                                                                        by his ears!

DZIESMA:  Latviešu gadskārtu kantāte,                                  SONG: Cantata of the                                                                                                                    Latvian Year,

IV daļa – “Miķeli-Mārtiņi” – Maija Riekstiņa                       Part IV, “Mikeli-                                                                                                                              Martini” – Maija                                                                                                                              Riekstins

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