On Friday, the opening day of the World Culture Festival (WCF), a troop of 100 children from Abuyog, Leyte province of Philipines, performed a traditional bee dance that signified congregation and rebuilding. The children were telling their own stories, of how they rebuilt their lives after Typhoon Haiyan.
Before every dance, the troupe, comprising children between 8-14 years, meditate in the traditional style of Art of Living (AOL), their coordinator Madline Pajarillo told The Indian Express Saturday. Most of them have never travelled to Philippine’s capital Manila but, thanks to AOL, they took an airplane to Delhi for the first time in their lives, said Pajarillo.
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The AOL Foundation, along with International Association of Human Values, has been helping rebuild the province in Phillipines for over two years. “Sri Sri first spoke about the WCF when he was in Philippines for an event, in May last year. After that, we started pooling funds to bring these children here,” said Pajarillo.
Against the backdrop of flickering star lights placed next to the teams slated to perform at the World Culture Festival Saturday evening, 55 Shaolin monks from the South Shaolin Temple in China presented their 5,000-year-old tradition of martial arts, set to the tune of modern music. The average age of the monks in the group was 12. The stage saw an explosion of their gravity-defying pivots, kicks and somersaults, apart from the usage of wooden sticks, knives and fists.
Wong Waichong, the 56-year-old master of the troupe from the city of Putian, said, “We are excited to be here. Although our performance is five minutes long, even a one-minute performance take 10 years of practise to master…”
Among the other performances slated for the evening included a Chinese song sung by a thousand volunteers from AOL, who had come from the far east nations, Turkey’s famous Whirling Dervishes, and a contemporary performance by Taiwanese dancers.
A troupe of 150 dancers from Thailand brought on stage the traditional Thai masked dance drama Khon, based on the epic Ramayana, which was once limited to the royal court. As the chanted narrative of a storyteller accompanied the music of singers and an orchestra, performers dressed in resplendent green and red costumes, wearing masks, golden head-dresses and crowns, recited the Ramakien — the Thai version of the scripture.
As 300 Russian dancers geared up for their performance titled “Kalinka”, one of them appeared to be thrilled to be back in India. “I have been affiliated with AOL for years. It feels great to be a part of this huge initiative,” she said.
A 130-member troupe from Nepal, Harmony in Diversity, will be performing on Sunday. The artistes will be performing the Sherpa, Kaura, Valle Newari, Tharu and Chandu — the five traditional dance forms of Nepal.