Ukrainian Memorial: Our last sightseeing excursion in Curitiba

November 16, 2016

Carlos, D. Lais, Dale and I went the Ukrainian Memorial, our last sight-seeing site in Curitiba.  It is a park within the larger Tingui Park, surrounded by forest and on the grounds is a replica of an old Ukrainian Orthodox church and a little gift shop. The church is a replica of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel and was constructed at the end of the 19th century by Ukrainian immigrants  in the Serra do Tigre, in Marechal Mallet, Paraná. The architectural style is Byzantine, with a bronze onion dome cupola and external bell tower.

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The Ukrainian Memorial: center, the replica of a church , to the left is the bell tower; on the right, a cross in stone is the Holodomor monument and to the right of it, partially hidden by trees, is the gift shop.

Near the entrance to the park is a small memorial to the Holodomor, the genocide of Ukrainians by Stalin’s politically engineered famine, which killed 3-10 million people, according to an informational poster. The genocide through man-made famine was carried out in 1932-33 in which one fifth of the rural population of Ukraine perished. Over a third of these were children. Besides taking farmers’ lands and goods, Stalin also attempted to eliminate the Ukrainian culture and language (in this, fortunately, he did not succeed). The memorial, a replica in granite 1.8 x 1.4 meters of the original Holodomor memorial in Kiev, was created by Elvo Benito Damo, a sculptor from Paraná.

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In the shop, the shopkeeper said it was OK to take pictures and she was very friendly.  She asked where we were from, we talked about the weather and admired the things she had for sale.  I was trying to decide whether to buy a picture frame or a hexagon-shaped pen holder.  Lais then insisted on buying the picture frame for me, and I bought the pen holder for myself, as well as an edible Christmas memento. The shopkeeper explained what the different designs on the items meant.

Matruskas (nesting dolls)

These woven items are made with straw and the designs have special meaning.

Ukrainian crafts for sale

I wandered into the church, which was decorated with religious icons in frames with embroidered scarves draped over them.  There was also a cabinet full of beautifully painted eggs called pessankas, for which the Ukrainians are famous, each one with some meaning in its design.  There was a nice poem embroidered on a cloth with a translation in Portuguese.  The Ukrainians, like the Russians, use the Cyrillic alphabet.

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A large metal egg-shaped sculpture stood in the yard and next to it was the bell tower, a small building with a lookout on the upper level.  This whole area had suddenly filled with a group of middle school kids from a school, all dressed in their uniforms of a white shirt embroidered with their school’s logo, and dark pants. Their school was in Blumenau, (in the state of Santa Catarina, to the south of Paraná), I read on one of them.  I didn’t get the name of the school but someone told me it was a Jewish school.

Carrying the plastic bags with my wrapped purchases, I climbed up the stairs too and looked around.  When most of the kids had vacated the area around the pessanka sculpture, I took a closer look and snapped a few pictures.

As we were getting back in the car, it started to rain again!  Once again, good timing!

That evening, we packed, because the next day we would have to say good-bye to our friends and depart for São Paulo.

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