Colour of culture
The World Culture Festival’s fusion of arts, culture and humanity was a sight to behold.
I could barely believe that threeand- a- half million people could converge at the Art Of Living’s ( AOL) World Culture Festival ( WCF) in one day. So, I made a beeline to New Dehli to be part of the historic event, held on the Yamuna Bank plains from March 11– 13.
I made the trip with much trepidation and anxiety, unsure of what it would be like to be among such a mass of people.
But seeing is believing – spectators started entering the festival grounds from noon when the gates opened on the first day. By 5pm, there was already a crowd of one million participants.
The 405ha site adjacent to the Yamuna River flood plains saw double the crowd of the million who turn up at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur annually for Thaipusam. However, having covered the religious festival for more than 20 years, the crowd at WCF, instead, came from every corner of the world.
In the end, a record crowd of 3.75 million people converged over the three days. More than 37,000 artists from 155 countries descended upon New Delhi to showcase their unique sights, sounds and tastes.
They were mostly AOL followers and supporters reverberating with hope that the world can come together and work towards peace, despite differences in faiths and beliefs.
The rain and hailstorm on the opening day failed to dampen the spirits of those who flocked to the flood plains of Yamuna river.
Together with more than a million on the first day, I braved the storm and waded through slushy mud tracks for more than two kilometres to reach the stage. It was worth the trip after being trapped in a two- hour traffic jam heading to the festival.
I was fortunate to witness dance and music on the world’s largest stage, spread over seven acres. The main attraction of the festival was on March 13, when a “Peace Meditation” session was held under the open skies and serene banks of the Yamuna.
The Indian media may have carried negative reports of WCF endangering the biodiversity of the river’s environment prior to the event, but this festival, instead, symbolised the harmonious coexistence of various races and religions from all over the world. It celebrated diversity by bringing together the power of the people on a common platform – through dance and music.
The festival was such a success, the Indian media reported that the leaders of Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Australia and Paraguay have also invited AOL to organise a festival of this nature in their countries.
AOL’s founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, marked the momentous occasion during its opening, saying: “I belong to you all. The people gathered here from all reli- gions, all nationalities to give this message, we are a one- world family. From regional consciousness to national and then to universal consciousness, this is the growth
Malaysian participants singing from their hearts at the festival.