A TRADITIONAL annual Ukrainian celebration took place in Coventry and all over the world last Thursday.
Vyshyvanka – the day of the national embroidered shirt – was first introduced 16 years ago when a student from Chernivtsy University in Ukraine proposed all students to come to the lectures wearing embroidered blouses and shirts. Everyone loved the idea and even teachers came to University wearing their Vyshyvnkas.
Over the years, it became so popular that nowadays Ukrainians all over the world put on their traditional shirts and blouses on the third Thursday in May.
The day unites Ukrainians regardless of their gender, social status, religious beliefs or political opinions. A large gathering of Ukrainians from Coventry and Warwickshire – including some who relocated to the area to escape their war-torn homeland – took place by the Godiva Statue in Broadgate.
Dr Mario Kosmirak gave a speech and greeted all guests who came to support Ukraine and all its people in this difficult time.
Among those who attended were the new Lord Mayor Kevin Maton, former mayor and mayoress Coun John McNicholas and his wife June, Pru Porretta – aka Lady Godiva, Coun Ram Lakha, Coun Abdul Salam Khan (deputy leader of the Council), Coun Asha Masih, Coun Christine Elizabeth Thomas, Coun Pervez Akthar, Coun Steven Keough, Coun Shakila Nazir, Shahin Ahmed (Royal Bengal, representative from Bangladesh community) and others present at the event.
A small concert of Vyshyvanka and patriotic songs was also performed and there was a minute’s silence in memory of all soldiers and civilians who have died in the war.
The community and guests then gathered in the pub.
Ukrainian Iryna King, who lives in Coventry, told the Observer: “Vyshyvanka is our history, our pride and national identity.
“For us, Ukrainians, this day is very important not only just to show our beautiful embroidered blouses and shirts which we are very proud of but also to show our identity, respect to our heritage and it is a freedom and independence for us as well.
“There was a time when Ukrainians were not allowed to wear Vyshyvanka by the Soviets.
“You could be taken to prison or executed for this. Unfortunately, the history repeats itself in Ukraine nowadays and you can still be executed by Russian troops if they see you wearing Vyshyvanka.
“So wearing Vyshyvanka means also freedom and independence for us. Sad to say but so many soldiers are dying every day to have this right to be Ukrainian and to wear freely their Vyshyvankas.”