One venue, 3.5 million people, 33,000 artistes, 155 countries, 40 instruments and all on the banks of one holy river, Yamuna. Come March 11-13, Delhi stands to witness what spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar describes as the “Olympics” of art and culture, an event organised by the Art of Living founder as well. This is, of course, assuming the event goes through, despite the countless controversies that have been attaching themselves to this mammoth affair.
In what promises to be a grand spectacle, the World Culture Festival 2016 builds on the premise of Vasudheva Kutumbakam, the whole world is one family, wherein people can co-exist despite differences. The festival aims to provide a single platform for religious leaders, businessmen and politicians to come together and renew their vision to work for the welfare of the society, while encouraging traditional musicians.
But, despite the fact that ever since its announcement the WCF has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, thousands of people have been working round the clock to make sure the ‘world’s largest temporary stage’ is in place on time. Addressing concerns of the WCF’s impact on Yamuna’s ecosystem, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has repeatedly promised to take care of the river during the festival. “The Kumbh Mela is being held at the banks of the Ganga since aeons, but that didn’t make the Ganga impure. Likewise, the purity of the banks of Yamuna will not be compromised on our part. There is no chance, not the slightest chance of polluting the river, or its bank. We will not leave behind any garbage,” he said at a press conference.
With the inauguration of the festival just around the corner, here’s some interesting trivia on the World Culture Festival 2016:
— ‘Peace meditation’, led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar himself, will be held on all three days of the festival for the millions in attendance.
— More than 33,000 people will perform at the festival.
— In the Grand Musical Symphony, 40 instruments will be played together.
— The Global Leadership Forum – co-hosted by the World Forum of Ethics in Business and The Art of Living Foundation during March 12-13, 2016, in New Delhi – will bring together senior leaders from business, government, politics, science, NGOs, faith-based organisations, sports, academia and media to reflect on the paradigms of leadership needed to manoeuvre the world of today.
— WCF will witness the world’s largest stage set up over an area of 7 acres (around 28,000 sq. m). This will be an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the ‘Largest temporary stage’ in the world.
— The total area of the venue would cover 1,000 acres.
— Over 1,000 people are working on stage and venue development.
— More than 20,000 international guests are expected, with sizeable contingents from South America, Mongolia, Russia, the US, Europe, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Pakistan, among others.
Speaking of the philosophy behind the festival, Sri Sri said, “Music, dance and celebration, aside from yoga, are an effective remedy for depression. In ancient India, we always lived life in a holistic manner – whether it is medicine or spirituality or culture, art…anything. We see everything from a holistic perspective. Art and culture definitely uplift one’s spirit and deepen one’s meditation. One of my first beliefs is God likes fun. Spirituality is not to be taken as a serious, morose or depressing thing. It is something which brings happiness and joy from within. We have always considered ‘Ananda’ to be a part of spirituality – it is pure bliss, pure joy, great fun.”
The WCF is currently awaiting approval from the National Green Tribunal to conduct the festival on the banks of Yamuna river.