Pinoys in Russia keep ‘Undas’ traditions alive

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RUSSIA, Nov. 1, 2012—They live in the land of vodka and the Kremlin, where temperatures could get as cold as -30 degrees, but despite being miles away from the Philippines, Pinoys living in Russia find ways to keep ‘Undas’ traditions alive.

Remembering loved ones

While Russia does not have a government-mandated holiday for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Pinoys in the country cling to family traditions and prayer to mark these special days.

Melody Buhian – Solovko who married a Russian and is now a homemaker in Khabarovsk said she attends a Catholic service in her parish every November 2 to remember dead loved ones.

According to her, Russians are not too big on remembering the dead or honoring the saints, so an average of 10-15 people turn up for the short prayer in the local cemetery.

Biko, hot chocolate 

Aside from praying for loved ones who have passed away, Solovko said it is also a time for her to remember relatives and family members still alive and well in the Philippines.

Solovko, who has lived in Russia for three years, also adds a homey touch by making it a point to cook some ‘biko’ (sticky rice cooked with coconut cream and sugar), a Filipino delicacy that many families prepare for these holidays and some hot chocolate to go with it.

Prayers from Russia

For other OFWs who do not live in such permissive environments, practicing their beliefs is a bit of a challenge.

For Geraldine Jacob, who works as a domestic helper in Moscow, praying is the only concrete means of remembering her dead loved ones.In an interview, she revealed that working hours are long and her boss does not allow her to venture out into “the big city” of Moscow making it hard for her to attend mass or meet up with other Filipinos.

The first time she attended mass was this September, when she got to go with a Pinay neighbor.

Jacob, who has been in Russia for 14 months, said she prays for special people in her life who have died by offering up a rosary.

Even with the challenges of living far from the country, Pinoys lend some of their innate spirituality and unique traditions wherever they are. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]


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