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5 years to the event of the decade – World Culture Festival

The World Culture Festival organized by The Art of Living Organization on 11th, 12th and 13th of March, 2016 was attended by heads of the countries, heads of companies, artists, saints, and celebrities.

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3.75 million people in the span of 3 days. Stage of a size equal to 7 football grounds. 37,000+ artists seating on the stage. People from 150+ countries participated and celebrated diversity, happiness, peace and culture.

I can’t believe that its been 5 years to the biggest ever event I have attend in my life – The WCF – World Culture Festival organized by The Art of Living Organization on 11th, 12th and 13th of March, 2016 which was attended by heads of the countries, heads of companies, artists, saints, and celebrities (Here celebrities mean people who celebrates every moment).

It was a unique event for everyone. Maybe for the first time people came together to celebrate the culture. 172 leaders from across the globe attended this event and many sent their messages and blessings through videos and texts and what not.

For me this event was more than just a big event. For me it was seeing the miracle getting unfold. On 11th of March there was heavy rains just before the event and sometime during the event too. Despite that, everyone were on their respective places, celebrating and happy. So, strange! I remember when Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar walked backstage, he was completely wet because of rain. Someone said – “Gurudev, you can change in the green room” and he smiled and replied – “Everyone out there are wet, and waiting for me. I will go like this” and he came.

There are so many stories of WCF which I would like to share but I guess I can write a book on it as one article will be too small to include even 10 of those stories. But let me share some interesting facts about World Culture Festival 2016 :

1. More than 20,000 guests from other countries like Japan, USA, Malaysia and even Pakistan attend this event.
2. So many tribal art forms got a new life when it got performed on this stage
3. World’s largest peace meditation. Millions of people meditated physically in presence of Gurudev and more than that joined virtually in the meditation.
4. Rehearsals of the Grand Art of Living Symphony happened virtually. The tracks were sent out to more than 8000 participants to rehearse.
5. Some numbers of artists: (Source: artofliving.org)
a. 1700 Bharatnatyam performers were trained by 3 Padma awardees
b. 1700 Kathak dancers choreographed by Kathak maestro, Pandit Birju Maharaj
c. 375 drummers from South Africa
d. More than 1445 Odissi dancers
e. More than 1100 Kuchipudi dancers
f. About 1620 Kathakali and Mohiniattam dancers
g. 1400 Ghoomar dancers from Rajasthan
h. More than 1150 Bhangra dancers to perform
i. Over 1500 Garba dancers from Gujarat
j. Over 1000 singers from West Bengal to perform Rabindra Sangeet
k. About 1050 Naati dancers
l. 1000 Panthi dancers to perform
m. 1008 Dhangari Dhol players
n. Artists from across the world also performed Brazilian Samba, Argentinian Tango, Hip Hop, Rap
o. Bulgarian Folk artists and Swiss Alphorn players adorned the stage
p. Cosmic Rhythm saw about 4,600 artists perform 30 dance forms
q. Some of the international performances include- Contemporary Sufi (From Pakistan), Kandyan dance (Srilanka), Genesis (Taiwan)

The Controversy:

An event organized by Hindu Spiritual Saint and nobody to oppose it? That’s never going to happen in our country at least. Just before the WCF began – some so called environmentalists filed some cases to try maligning the image of The Art of Living and to not let the event to happen. Media also try their best to malign the image. But guess what event happened with all the proper permissions.

But guess what, just very next day (on 14th March) – there was an article saying that Art of Living people polluted the site. Imagine millions of people coming together at a place. You will get the answer to your question about pollution. But not surprisingly, more than 1000 volunteers were there on 14th March on the ground to clean the site with all the waste and plastics and stuff.

Yamuna Flood Pain damage issue was raised in NGT for which no substantial proof was provided and Art of Living was asked to pay 5 crore for building ecology as a compensation for which Art of Living filed the complaint in Supreme Court and the issue is still pending. But if you see the video posted by Art of Living posting all the facts – you will get a better idea on the whole issue and the propaganda :

Does it helped the Country?

1. $42 million Forex Earning during the WCF
2. Rs 8.8 Billion is estimated to have been added to Delhi’s Exchequer because of WCF
3. 93% increase in forex earnings/day during WCF in Delhi
4. 9.8% Y.O.Y increase for March in Foreign Exchange Earnings. Highest for the year.
5. 12% increase in international tourism in March was the highest recorded Y.O.Y change.
6. WCF rank was 26 among all time gatherings in terms of number of people
7. 1 of 6 tourists visiting Delhi in March had come to attend the WCF
8. WCF witnessed Diplomats from 32 countries together at one place.
9. Tourism: Approximately 20,000+ tourists came from different parts of the world.
10. Delhi’s GDP/day (in Crores) – Typical 1060, during WCF – 1240.
11. 2.7% of Delhi’s montly GDP for March came from WCF
12. State Expenditure for Delhi Commonwealth Game – 27,470 crores and for WCF – 0/- while 71 Nations participated in Commonwealth Games, whereas 155 countries participated in WCF.

(Source: https://www.slideshare.net/AnmolNarang3/world-culture-festival-report )

For the world out there – it might be an event with millions of people coming together. But for me this event was an example of Chaos to Bliss. It was an example of seeing the miracles unfolding.

This is 40th year of The Art of Living. When the world is still fighting the pandemic – I am sure there will be no events happening. But I thing I am sure what’s going to happen in the near future – MORE MIRACLES. MORE HAPPINESS. MORE JOY. MORE UNITY IN DIVERSITY.

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