Venkat Raman –
A global forum of leaders, a cultural festival highlighting the rich heritage of humanity and other avenues of promoting peace and goodwill are on the cards for more than 3.5 million people expected at a single venue next month.
India’s President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other political, religious and community leaders will joint Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the Art of Living Foundation at its 35th Anniversary to be held at a sprawling multi-hectare land near New Delhi from March 11 to March 13, 2016.
A massive stage accommodating more than 30,000 dignitaries will be among the exclusive and never-before-tried features of the five-day festival that will bring together people from all over the world.
‘The World Cultural Festival,’ as it is called, will propagate the Foundation’s working philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kuttumbakam’ (World is one Family) and celebrate life on earth as a boon and inspire people to love and not hate each other.
The Delhi local government has announced a five-day holiday for schools and colleges and is set to deploy 17,000 additional buses for conveyance of people to and from the Festival, while organisers are preparing themselves to provide food for about 400,000 people every day for the three days of Festival.
Auckland based Art of Living Teacher and Volunteer Rashmi Bhatia said that as well as Vedic chanting by 1000 pundits, more than 8500 musicians on 40 types of musical instruments will present the ‘Art of Living Grand Symphony,’ joined by a number of film celebrities.
“About 1000 Bharata Natyam dancers, 1500 Kuchipudi dancers, and 1000 Kathak dancers, whose dances are being choreographed by world renowned Kathak Master Pandit Birju Maharaj will perform at the Festival. They will be joined by 1500 Naati dancers from Himachal Pradesh, 1000 dancers from Gujarat, 1000 Bhangra dancers from Punjab, 1000 Panthi dancers from Chhattisgarh, 1000 dancers from Kerala presenting Kathakali and Mohiniattam, dancers and performers from Sikkim and Darjeeling, 40 Naadaswaram artistes from Tamil Nadu. There are several more and the list is too long to be mentioned here,” she said.
Sri Ravi Shankar visited Auckland on April 5, 2010 and attracted more than 5000 people at the Trusts Stadium where he demonstrated a number of Art of Living techniques and spoke on the significance of peace and the need to avoid conflicts.
In our February 1, 2010 issue, we had quoted Glenn D’Souza, former President of the Foundation’s New Zealand Chapter as saying that Sri Ravi Shankar’s self-development programmes and social initiatives bring peace to individuals, and in turn, empower many to serve and transform their communities.
“A globetrotter, he travels to more than 40 countries every year to share his message of social responsibility. His teachings of love, practical wisdom, and service promote harmony among people. His vision is to create a world free of stress and violence through acquisition of wisdom,” he said.
Established in 1981 an international, non-profit, educational and humanitarian organisation, the Foundation has been working with global bodies and local communities with its own chapters and branches in more than 150 countries, across the Continents.
Foundation of Superlatives
The Foundation is the largest volunteer-based Non-Governmental Organisation in the world and Sri Ravi Shankar’s teachings and programmes benefit more than 25 million people worldwide.
The formation of the International Association for Human Values in 1997 at the behest of Buddhist Monk the Dalai Lama and other world spiritual and political leaders cast a significant milestone for the Foundation.
The Organisation has grown to advance human values in political, economic, industrial, and social spheres, celebrating the diversity of cultural, ethnic and religious identities.
The Foundation’s programmes assist misguided youth from discarding gang life, violence and drug addiction and transform themselves into useful members of the society. Teachers and volunteers visit prisons regularly to coach hard core inmates the ‘Art of Living’ peacefully, giving and taking compassion and care, Mr D’Souza had said.
“Sri Ravi Shankar’s social initiatives include conflict resolution, disaster and trauma relief, prisoner rehabilitation, youth leadership, women’s empowerment, female foeticide, child labour, and access to education.”