Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The World Culture Festival, World Culture Festival.

Before, am judged for taking sides, let me make it clear, that I am here-taking up your mind space, not to offend my professional fraternity (the media) nor to defend my personal loyalties (The Art of Living).

It has been few weeks since The World Culture Festival in Delhi drew to a close. Like everything else, time has eaten up this event too. The media however, has found numerous headlines from the event. They’ve tweeted vociferously and ensured that the event reached every home of the country. The portfolio of NGO’s and work they claim to do as well as the urgent need to clean and revive a dying Yamuna river was the talk at every breakfast table. From a third person perspective, it is fun to read leading newspapers report extremely opposite views about the same event, from the very same location. And am so grateful I wasn’t in that uncomfortable situation that Ayurvati & Parvateshwar were in – having to choose between their job & their Lord (Oath of the Vayuputras- remember).

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6 years as a journalist, 4 years into Corporate communications, many continents travelled, many events attended I must admit- all the chaos besides – the event per se was magnificent. It was jaw dropping to watch 37000 artists on a 50 feet high floating stage, 7 acre in width, complete with special effect lights. Performers from world over, bringing with them, sights and sounds of their cultures, costumes, musical instruments, dances and good wishes. What a dramatic & impressive platform it was!

 

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The audiences were enthused. They had travelled to Delhi from far and wide; walked into a huge event venue and made their way to the earmarked enclosures. Ever since the names of delegates and globetrotting celebrities who were going to attend the event had been made public, I knew there would be a stampede, I’ve seen it at every event I’ve attended; people clamouring for an autograph and now a selfie! What I saw here was mind boggling, a crowd so well-behaved, more so when an entire galaxy of stars have descended. No one broke out of the enclosures, no one yelled or screamed, everyone just sang and danced together and hollered for encores of course!

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The discipline of the performers was truly exemplary: no matter how electrifying the energy, or how hard the hail storm, not one moved from their place and ensured that the performances went on as scheduled. The moment that stole my heart was right at beginning on Day 1. It rained, some say nature played spoil sport. Some others say that the Gods showered their blessings. I only saw the determination, grit and enthusiasm of the performers. Over a 1000 Dhangari Dhol performers from Kolhapur danced in bliss as the chants of ‘Jai Jai Ram Krishna Hari’ reverberated in the air. Drenched, on a wet stage, 1700 Kathak performers exhibited impeccable footwork as the audiences applauded and demanded an encore.

 

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Beyond it all, stood the man who was the inspiration for so many people gathered at the venue, the person responsible for an event of this scale to be imagined and executed. I saw Gurudev (as He is fondly called) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji standing on a raised dais, beside Indian Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi ji, waving to the audiences and performers. Beyond the rousing welcome He received, I saw Him standing drenched and soaked to the bone, smiling and welcoming audiences and dignitaries alike. Here was someone who walked the talk. The devotees, audiences, artists, performers, organisers were drenched in the rains, how could He not show solidarity with them. And before someone decides to troll me just because Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was drenched and expressing solidarity with the others at this event, let me clarify that this is not just one instance. I am sure that the devotees have more to share. I am just sharing what I saw and experienced.

 

 

PMandsrisri

 

 

Of course, walking the venue was not easy. But given the size of the event, it was never going to be simple. Even lesser was finding parking or getting to the venue. But then, right from simple wedding celebrations to Bollywood performances, we in India have almost always had a problem with venue, parking, people management. For the scale of the free for all event (3.75 million people), we’ve had no stampede, just a few cases of pick pocketing or lost and found FIRs, no accidents, no brawl, I think it is beyond just commendable. The volunteers who’ve stood in rain and shine deserve their credit and does the inspiration behind it all.

 

Shwetal Rai

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The World Culture Festival, World Culture Festival.

When I think about my time at the World Culture Festival in Delhi, and savor the memories, the feeling that stands out, is the feeling of AWE and WONDER and PEACE. What I experienced was nothing less than magic!

 

Dance Stage

 

The magic, which drew millions from all over the world, from all religions, from all strata, from all walks of life. The magic of the magnificently huge, beautiful 7 acre stage that stood just on plates.  It was the magic of commitment and tireless work of the volunteer organizers who made an event on the scale of Olympics possible in India. It was the magic of over 36000 musicians, dancers, singers happily performing on the grand stage, rain or shine!

 

Singers

 

It was delightful to be in the ocean of beautiful people. I’ve never been in large crowds without witnessing tension & tempers, except for Art of Living events. I’ve been to dozens of Art Of Living events over the last 4 years or so, and without exception they showcase best human behaviour. World Culture Festival was the largest event I ever attended in my life, and I felt like I was out on a picnic with my family, more than ever before.

 

Family

 

Now, imagine this scene where we put together millions of people, add some cold rain and long but slow walks through little mud & slush, and you might expect little impatience, elbowing, maybe a bit of stress, temper or frayed nerves. However, what I actually witnessed was the polar opposite, where people were gliding along like swans with poise as if they were in the lap of luxury and enjoy the whole show!

If you are watching something on TV keenly, and people keep popping up in your view continuously for 4 hours, you’re likely to lose your temper isn’t it? Not so at the World Culture Festival! There was so much positive energy. The viewers were politely asking the obstructors and that too without losing patience! There was a divine hand guiding and guarding this event for sure. On the inaugural day, just as the event began, we had rainfall as well as little winds.

Most of us did not carry umbrellas, so we were drenched but then, I saw many people dancing, and some meditating and some even said what an auspicious blessing to have “Amrut Varsha”.  Within sometime of cold shower, the sun broke out of the clouds, rain stopped, and there was a beautiful rainbow across the stage! May be it was Nature’s contribution to decorate the stage!!!

 

Polish Amrut varsha

 

It was a moving and beautiful moment, and I was grateful.

And in the midst of it all, I was moved to see a young couple from abroad, carrying a baby girl, who was probably no more than 2 months old. The baby is certainly blessed to be in the middle of overflowing divine grace!

 

Couple With Kid

 

There must have been thousands of volunteers working hard behind the scenes to make this grand event possible. I thank them for this wonderful experience. The ones I had a direct interaction with were those who organized the stay and transportation for many of us. I salute them for that. I truly felt as a member of one big family, they made special arrangement to ensure our breakfast and dinner was available without fail, and took care to contact each one of us to ensure that no one was left behind.

Behind everything that happened, behind every volunteer, behind every experience, behind all the magic, behind all the goodwill is the unmistakable hand and Grace of Divine.

 

Gurudev at WCF

 

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been constantly teaching and inspiring the world to make everyday a celebration. The World Culture Festival was just a way to show us an example of celebration, and he specially showed us that challenges will be part of life and despite that, we can still joyfully celebrate together as one humanity.

 

Jai Gurudev

Tej Arora

About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The World Culture Festival, World Culture Festival.

The Dhangar (Dhangad) are a herding caste of people primarily located in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The Dhangri Dhol is the Drum of the shepherd clan in Maharashtra. The Drums also come out during their New Year known as the Gudi Padva.

About 1100 Dhangaris beat their drums during the World Culture Festival. The Co-ordinators & the Dholwadaks from various locations who had come to the World Culture Festival share with us their experiences

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When the world culture festival was announced, the mind could not perceive the magnanimity of this historic event.  I was a part of the coordination of Dangari Dhol performance of 1100 artists from a simple background known as Dhangars – the shepherd community of Maharashtra.  They are very simple, innocent, and devoted villagers.

We had so many challenges bringing 1100 people together and I wonder how Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji managed to pull off an event of 36,000 plus artists on one stage! What really moved me was in spite of the heavy rains on the first day of the event, no one budged from their seats, neither the artists nor the audience. The artists gave overwhelming performances with such zeal that it almost seemed like the rain was a part of their performance.

What left me dumb stricken was that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also stood there fully drenched.  We were almost a group of 2000 people from Kolhapur who attended the World Culture Festival.  My inbox is full of messages thanking me for inspiring them to be a part of this spectacular event.

— Dimple Gajwani, Co-ordinator- Dhangari Dhol, Kolhapur

 

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It was a dream-come-true to be a part of the World Culture Event. We have never thought that we could fulfill such a big task. This was only possible by Gurudev’s grace and blessings. It was a big and tough challenge to take such illiterate, innocent shepherd community to a big city like Delhi and make them perform at such a big global platform with the help of my 100 colleagues. I feel very proud and happy to be a part of such a “Bhooto Na Bhavishati” kind of an event.

— Prashant Patil, Co-ordinator, Kasaba Bawada

 

By Gurudev’s grace, we got a chance to show our talent to perform Dhangar Dhol at such a grand event so we are very thankful to Art of Living Foundation. We came to experience how true is the concept of Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam came to know about art and culture of 155 countries. Through this event, Gurudev has given our 1000 Dhangari Dhol performers to perform for the world peace. We were truly amazed to be a part of such a huge and grand event. Gurudev has done this job to bring simple people like us on this global platform. Once again, we are very much thankful to Gurudev and the whole Art of Living Foundation.

— Biru Oma Pujari, Dholwadak

 

Gurudev has given us such a global platform to our Dhangar Community and we are very thankful. We are highly amazed to experience this event.  Even in our seven generations, we have not experienced such a grand event. We are very honoured to be a part of such a huge and grand event of this World Culture Festival. We and even our next generations will always feel very proud and honoured for it.

–Agnu Lavate, Dholwadak, Ichalkaranji

 

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