The Art of Living’s World Cultural Festival

Heading towards world peace and oneness

Culture

March 13, 2016

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Artists performed at the world's largest stage of 7 acres

Artists performed at the world’s largest stage of 7 acres

To celebrate 35 years of service to humanity, The Art of Living has organised the World Cultural Festival 2016 from March 11-13, 2016.

 Headquartered in Bangaluru and with operations in 155 countries, The Art of Living is a non-profit humanitarian organisation found in 1981 by the world-renowned spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

To celebrate its 35th anniversary, the Art of Living has organized a ‘World Cultural Festival’ on the banks of the Yamuna river in New Delhi.

World’s largest stage, 7 acres of land to celebrate world peace, participation of 155 countries, more than 34 lakh people, cultural dances and folk music by artists from all around the globe, instruments, more than 1500 rehearsals, colours and a wide smile on each face; The Art of Living’s World Cultural Festival is the biggest celebration of its kind.

People from around the world including countries like, Canada, Argentina, Russia, Philippines and more were present at the event along with around 15 Indian states with their enthusiasm on peak, and the first day of the WCF, on the banks of Yamuna, was a hit among millions of Sri Sri’s followers who thronged the venue, undeterred by a heavy rain and hail. The event continued even as rain turned the venue into a marshland.

People enjoyed the rain and danced to the drumming of more than 1,000 ‘Dhanagari Dhols’ from Maharashtra that marked the beginning of the event on March 11. Volunteers, participants, attendees, audience and teachers, everyone stood up on their chairs to enjoy the rain and cheer, as the event started. However, some people ran in search for covers under the sheets and boards on the ground.

“We have not eaten anything since morning and its raining since so long, but this did not lessen our enthusiasm and excitement. We are all energized and not feeling tired at all,” said Puja Gulani from Pune, who was an artist and was waiting for her performance to commence.

Nearly 37,000 artists from across the world performed at the event that has been caught in a major controversy over the use of venue and confusion of permissions from the city authorities due to the ecosensitive nature of the venue. Many environmentalists had criticized the use of floodplains of the Yamuna, a river already threatened by extreme pollution, as preparations to receive such a large congegration would have severe ecological impact on the river. After days of suspense, the event received a last minute clearance by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 10, 2016, with some conditions attached to restoration of the venue after the event.

The event is a mix of service, humanity, world culture, spirituality and human values. The festival celebrated the diversity in cultures from across the world while simultaneously highlighting unity.

“The amount of love you give, comes back to you in manifold,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the event.

Latin musical performance by 500 artists from Argentina, performance by 1,700 Kathak dancers choreographed by Pandit Birju Maharaj, ‘Ishwara Basa’ a song composed by Sri Sri, Bulgaria bringing their traditional dance ‘Horo’, 1310 dancers from Kerala performing Mohiniyattam and Kathakali, 106 dancers from Philippines in the ‘Bee Dance’ representing journey of life and oneness, colorful and vibrant Garba from Gujarat, along with other magical performances, graced the first day of the world festival.

“I compliment Gurudev Sri Sri World Cultural Festival is like the Kumbh Mela of Art and Cultures,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the event.

Even after so much of activities on the first day, the excitement did not fade on the second day of the event. The Yamuna rejoiced with the chanting of 1050 Vedic pandits, lakhs of flashlights from the audience symbolising the ‘Light of the Soul’, 150 mesmerising dancers from Thailand to perform the ‘Khon’ Dance, Maruni dance formation by 350 dancers from Sikkim, Gudum Baja from Madhya Pradesh and much more.

The festival has proven to live up to the expectations of lakhs of people. Kudos to everyone who put in selfless efforts to make the event a huge hit in its initial two days.

“Nothing would be possible without guruji’s blessings,” said Lakshmi Ramesh, volunteer, The Art of Living.

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