General Characteristics and Aims
Taarausuliste ja Maausuliste (*1) Maavalla (*2) Koda (Estonian House of Taara and Native Religions; hereafter Maavalla Koda) embodies in itself four Houses of believers in indigenous religions. Two religions are represented in Maavalla Koda: Taara religion, created in 1930.-s and Estonian indigenous religion - nature worship.
The aim of Maavalla Koda is to provide prerequisites for the maintenance and development of the indigenous religion and culture, following its creed and customs.
Tasks and Activities
Introduction and Evaluation of the Indigenous Culture
One of the most important tasks of Maavalla Koda is the introduction and evaluation of the indigenous tradition. Every Estonian, be he an infidel, a Christian, a Muslim, an adherent of the indigenous religion or an upholder of some other world view, should be proud of the religion and culture of his ancestors.
For example, Koda compiles and publishes Estonian runic calendar that reflects indigenous chronology and festivals. (For the adherents of the Estonian indigenous religion the year 10216 corresponds to the year 2003.) Also, public lectures are held and articles published in the media to introduce the Estonian traditional religion.
Research of the Traditional Culture and Religion
Maavalla Koda organizes the research, introduction and evaluation of the traditional culture. We have in Estonia a strong tradition of folklore research but it is based on the Western-Christian worldview. Thus Koda has to organize the research and interpretation of the indigenous tradition based on the indigenous worldview.
For example, Koda is currently making preparations for a general and complex survey of ancient indigenous shrines (sacred groves, holy springs, sacred trees, stones, etc.).
Indigenous People and the State
We can freely develop as the indigenous people only when the Estonian legislation recognizes indigenous values and customs. Thus one of the tasks of Maavalla Koda is to represent the religious interests of the indigenous people in the relations with the state. Unfortunately the Estonian legislation still follows the examples culturally alien or even hostile to us. For example, the Estonian Republic does not recognize our indigenous shrines as sacred places, forbids the following of the indigenous funeral rites, does not warrant the peace of grave of our ancestors, etc.
Special attention in Maavalla Koda is paid to the educational life in Estonia. Koda, together with other non-Christian religious organizations has opposed actively the introduction of the compulsory religious instruction in comprehensive schools. Koda has also emphasized that the present curriculum of the Estonian schools does not pay sufficient attention to the traditional culture and religion and treats it inadequately.
Structure and Administration
The highest body of administration in Maavalla Koda is the Council, consisting of the dignitaries of the four Houses. Between the Councils, Koda is administered by its own 3-member board of dignitaries.
Maavalla Koda consists of 4 Houses: Emajõe Koda, Emujärve Koda, Härjapea Koda and Saarepealne Koda.
For better organization of its activities, Maavalla Koda forms teams and committees. Currently the committees of the shrines, calendar, properties and PR and the team of religious freedom are active.
In relations with other religions the sequence of preferences for Maavalla Koda is following: nature worship of the Uralic peoples, nature worship of other peoples, ancient indigenous religions, new ethnic nature religions, world religions. In 10214 (2001) Maavalla Koda together with the representatives of Finnish (Suomen kansanuskon yhdistus ry.), Mari (Osh mari Chi mari and Sorta) and Erzya indigenous religions founded the Uralic Communion. The aim of the Uralic Communion is to establish contacts between different indigenous religions and to contribute to the maintenance and strengthening of these religions.
Roundtable of Estonian Religious Organisations
In 10214 (2001) Maavalla Koda together with Estonian Buddhist Congregation /Drikung Kagyu Ratna Shri Centre, Tibetan Buddhism Nyingma Estonian Congregation, Estonian Muslim Congregation and Tallinn Baha’i Congregation founded the Roundtable of Estonian Religious Organisations. The aim of the Roundtable of Estonian Religious Organisations is t to contribute to the development of religious tolerance and religious freedom in Estonia.
In the recent years Roundtable of Estonian Religious Organisations has made efforts to establish a dialogue with the Estonian government to warrant the separation of the church and the state prescribed in the Estonian constitution. In Estonia the adherents of certain religions constitute only 25% of the population and the members of congregations a still lesser percentage. In spite of that, the state provides several legislative and financial concessions to the church. Y suggests for Estonia the Japanese model or secular state in relations of the state and the church.
Taarausuliste ja Maausuliste Maavalla Koda was founded in March 10208 (1995). It was founded by the Houses of Emujärve Koda, Härjapea Koda and Supilinna Koda (since 10213 (2000) Emajõe Koda). On March 14, 10208 Maavalla Koda was entered in the register of the churches and congregations of the state as a union of religious organisations.
In 10215 (2002) Saarepealne Koda was admitted to Maavalla Koda as the fourth House.
Years of discussions preceded the foundation of Maavalla Koda. Possible ways of co-operation between the adherents of Taara religion and the Estonian indigenous religion were discussed. It was understood that in the changed social conditions the following of the customs of the indigenous religion is not possible any more without a modern religious organisation. As the adherents of Taara religion were not interested in the re-establishment of their religious organisations, which had existed during the previous Estonian Republic, it was decided to found joint Houses of the adherents of Taara religion and the indigenous religion.
(*1) maausuliste ->maausk - Estonian Indigenous Religion; literally: faith of Earth, faith of the Land
(*2) Maavald - ancient traditional name of Estonia; literally: Authority of Earth, Kingdom of the Country