The World Culture Festival Kumbh Mela of Art and Culture

Soft Diplomacy

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar reiterated the message of Faith, Co-existence and Happiness at the World Culture Festival (WCF) in New Delhi.

The first World Culture Festival held between March 11-13, 2016 this year brought together people from different cultures, nations and faiths as a one world family in a resounding message of peace. This three-day long mega event celebrating cultural diversity and Art of Living’s 35 years of service to humanity was organised in Delhi.

The event, supported by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi and the National School of Drama played host to people from over 155 countries. The World Culture Festival was a celebration of 35 years of Art of Living’s service to humanity, spirituality and human values.

“The World Culture Festival emphasises on co-existence, demonstrating the power of peace by bringing millions of people together. It is an opportunity for world leaders from cultural, social, political, business fields to come together to rekindle human values in the pursuit of happiness and peace,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.

The fest had a 7 acre stage to seat artistes, dignitaries and guests with an objective to bring a wide variety of music, dance and other art forms from India and across the globe on one platform. Also, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will lead a ‘Peace Meditation’ on all three days.

It was a spectacle befitting the coming together of the entire world as one family. The Art of Living’s World Culture Festival had a grand opening in the presence of its founder and spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and more than 6 lakh people. The festivities included a glorious symphony of 8500 artists, a spectacular Kathak ensemble of 1000 artists, ancient chants of peace, thousands of dignitaries, and a sea of humanity.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, inaugurated the grand celebrations with a rousing address: “I compliment Gurudev for completing this mission of service since 35 years to over 150 countries. India is so diverse and it has so much to contribute to the world. Through Art of Living, the world has got to know about India. I remember a reception by Art of Living family in Mongolia. The World Culture Festival is like the Kumbh Mela of Art and Cultures.”

“We need the Art of Living to follow our dreams, to fight challenges and live for others. This is the Kumbh Mela of art and culture; the world is not only connected through economic issues, it can be connected through humanity. I still recall during my visit to Mongolia, there was an Art of Living centre in that country, and they had organised a reception for me, where there were few Indians, but Mongolians were waving the Indian tricolour,” PM Modi said. That was, he added, the importance of soft power in international relations.

In an apparent reference to the controversy surrounding the event, taking place on the Yamuna floodplains and its impact on the environment, he said, “If we keep criticising everything we have and do not take pride in our cultural legacy, why should the world look at us?”

Marking the momentous occasion, Gurudev said, “In India we have always dreamt of the World as one Family. Today that dream seems to be taking shape into reality – “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – We are all one. People have come from far and wide – right from Argentina, Mongolia, Pakistan, Nepal etc and I welcome you all here, and I would say that you have all come to your home. This is a spiritual home for you all. Today we are giving out a very strong message of oneness to the whole world when it is so much needed, when there is so much gap between communities, nations, between ideologies etc,” he added.

The magnificent event lived up to its promise of being the world’s largest celebration of diversity with stellar performances from the finest of talents from all over the world. The festival began with the exotic strains of the Naadaswaram as dignitaries from all over the world were welcomed on stage. 1000 scholars sang Vedic chants from ancient scriptures that resonated with peace, which is at the core of the festival.

The highlight of the evening was The Art of Living Grand Symphony, where 8500 musicians mesmerised the audience with their music. The evening also witnessed magical performances showcasing the rich dancing traditions of India, including a Kathak Ensemble, of 1000 artists choreographed by none other than Padma Vibhushan Pt. Birju Maharaj.

The curtains came down on the World Cultural Festival, the world’s largest celebration of cultural and spiritual integration, with more than 12 lakh people singing the Vande Materam, Indian National Anthem in one voice.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar thanked all those who came for the festival and made it a resounding success. “To all of you, who have come from nearby and faraway destinations, from different faiths and nationalities, a heartfelt thank you. It’s your faith, love and compassion that have enabled the teams at Art of Living to present the biggest and the happiest family get-together – The World Culture Festival. I am delighted to see the confluence of great spiritual and religious leaders, politicians, peace-makers and artists who have joined us for this festival of music and dance. On the last day of WCF, I have a simple message to all of you – do remember that we are all vishwa-maanav: we are world citizens first. Together, we all form a global family, and must spread the message of peace, harmony and human values,” he said.

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