Monday, July 4, 2011

While celebrating harmony in diversity, this is the miracle of love: The World Cultural Festival a review

Marking the 30th anniversary of the organization, around 50,000 people from across 151 countries, 6000 artists and 804 dignitaries including ministers, members of parliament and ambassadors were present. The program began with vedic chants followed by the German national anthem and the European anthem – Ode to Joy.Fascinating yoga performances, melodious music, dazzling cultural programmes and colourful costumes took thousands of participants on an unforgettable journey of India and the world as the World Cultural Festival ended in the German capital Sunday. Thousands of people, including Indian Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai and BJP President Nitin Gadkari , braved showers and chilly winds in the German capital to attend yoga performances and riveting Indian dance and music shows as part of the World Cultural Festival. 
The event is celebrated as a "peace festival" at the historic Olympic Stadium that hosted the 1936 Olympics and 1974 World Cup football matches. The stadium turned 75 this year. The festival also marks 30 years of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living organisation.
The function started with playing of nadaswaram, a south Indian musical instrument, by artists from Indian and Sri Lanka. The beats of the barrel-shaped drum filled the stadium with energy as people clapped along, forgetting the chilly winds. On D Day, everything was ready. But that was not counting the vagaries of the weather: that morning, it started to rain, hard and steady. 40.000 disciples of the Art of Living prayed silently to their Master so that the rain stopped before the performance. But another miracle happened.
First 50 Indian singers smiled though the rain while reciting ancient Sanskrit slokas.
Then 500 Polish dancers hopped, skipped and bowed in the mud and puddles. The ancient science of yoga came indeed alive with hundreds of adepts going though asanas. The Art of Living performers seemed to transcend the rain: standing for a long time in flimsy clothing, in 13° centigrade, under sheets of rains, while waiting for their turn, they exploded in joy, grace, rhythm and sometimes power.
The sheer joy, energy, enthusiasm of not only the performers, but also of the nearly 40.000 spectators who had braved the rain, was something to watch. Nobody, even amongst the ministers, presidents and MP's who sat with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the dais, was indifferent.
And finally, that was what the miracle was about: not some cheap stunt of the rain stopping, by some power, or just a freak chance, which would have had many in religious ecstasy. But thousands of performers transcending adversity — which that day took the shape of unexpected cold and rain — through their devotion and love of their Master, and in the process, attaining heights of performance, which they might not have achieved in perfect conditions.
And in this union of their minds and bodies, not only were they forgetful of the rain, but different people from different countries, religions, cultures, some of them even hostile to each other, blended, naturally. And the message, which this gathering was to give, went through effortlessly: that the whole world can come together, while celebrating harmony in diversity. This is the miracle of love, this is the miracle of the rain. And even the sceptics rose as one man as the laser show and thousands of cheering spectators.
Mr. Subodh Kant Sahay, Minister for Tourism, Govt of India, Mr. Nitin Gadhkari, President, Bharatiya Janta Party represented India. “Humanity needs the wisdom of ancient India to heal the wounds of terrorism. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the ambassador of peace, a modern rishi who has come to unite the world”, added Mr. Nitin Gadhkari.

“I congratulate The Art of Living and Sri Sri for the truly transforming work being done in over 150 countries which has touched the lives of millions of people and of the younger generation in particular.” added Mr. Sahay.Sheikh Fahad from Kuwait, Minister for Information and Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh, Mr Abul Kalam Azad and Deputy Minister for Development from Israel Mr Ayoub Kara were also present on the dias.

Lauding the organization for its humanitarian work, congratulatory messages poured in from various dignitaries across the world such as Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and the President as well as the Prime Minister of India. “I hope that the festival will be able to spread the values of various cultures while celebrating harmony in diversity.” said a message by Mr. Manmohan Singh. The President of India smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil also congratulated by sending message.
Sri Sri also received the prestigious Human of the World Award from General Major Alexander Stephanov, President of the Academy of National Security, Russia.
Dignitaries from India and abroad including Monika Griefahn Co-Chair Right Livelihood Award, Elmar Brok German Member of the European Parliament and the former Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nirj Deva, Member, The European Parliament, Prof. Peter Eigen founder of the advisory council of Transparency International along with several Congressmen,  Members of the European and German Parliament, ambassadors, business leaders, academicians and NGO representatives attended the festival.
Sri Sri spoke both in German and English to the cheers of the local population.

Excerpts of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s speech at the World Culture Festival, Berlin, July 2-3.
I am so happy to be here in this city where the walls came down between people, it is time walls come down between cultures and civilizations. We all should remember we are a one world family. We need to bring everyone together in a spirit of love compassion, service.
When we started, we had this idea, the theme song was rainbow colors and the rains have come! Singing in times of difficulty shows that we have achieved something. Whatever the circumstances are, we will continue to serve the world as one human family with differences.
It is time to celebrate the differences and celebrate life on this planet. With all the volunteers, we are sure we can create a stress-free, violence-free society for our children. Poverty eliminated, differences celebrated and connection to the inner Divinity. One Divinity, one humanity, celebrating differences, this is our sacred duty.

The Ashok Art Gallery is internationally known for one of its most important holdings: more than 2000 major works by the world's most significant Artists.Over the past years, as Ashok Art Gallery has become a major centre for contemporary visual art, the Gallery has built a strong collection of contemporary work of different artists, we became a sponsor of the STANDUP-SPEAKOUT Artshow, Organized by Art Of Living Foundation and United Nations.Organized an International Contenmporary Art Exhibition including artists from USA, The Nederlands, Pakistan and India.We have also participated at Art Expo India 2008, 09 Mumbai and India Art Summit 2008 New Delhi.

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