Washington: The iconic National Mall in Washington DC was witness to an event of grand proportions, with an unprecedented and record breaking one million people gathering there to be part of The Art of Living’s World Culture Festival, as people from 180 countries converged for the planet’s biggest festival of humanity, peace and culture.
The event saw the coming together of global dignitaries, enthralling music and colorful dance performances by Grammy Award Winners and other renowned artists-with a common message of celebrating the One World Family.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of The Art of Living while addressing the gathering said, “It’s such a beautiful occasion to celebrate our diversity. Our planet is so diverse, yet there is an underlying unity of our human values. Today, on this occasion, let’s commit ourselves to bringing more happiness to society. Let’s put a smile on everyone’s face. That’s humanness. That’s what we all are made up of. We all belong to one global family. Let’s celebrate our life. Let us accept and face the challenges pragmatically. Let us dream of a better future for this and the coming generation.”
The global event also awakened our senses and serenity with captivating performances such as America the Beautiful and Vande Mataram by Grammy Award Winner, Chandrika Tandon and 200 artists, Panchabhootam, a 1000-strong Indian Classical dance and classical symphony, 1000 global guitar ensemble led by Grammy Award winner Micky Free and other renowned guitar players, and traditional dance performances from Africa, Japan, and the Middle East. Finally, it concluded with a Reggae Rhythms performance by Skip Marley, celebrating ‘One Love.’
External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S. Jaishankar said, “While we all endeavor to expand prosperity and secure our planet’s future, it is natural that we are confronted with challenges of oppressing nature. Whether it is natural disasters, man-made ones, conflicts, or disruptions, it is important that in an interdependent world, we are always there for one another. The Art of Living has been an inspirational example in this regard and I personally have seen the difference that they have made most recently in the Ukraine conflict. Today, their message, your message, our message should be of caring, sharing, generosity, goodwill of understanding, and cooperation. This is what has brought us all together here.”
On the second day, a thousand people stepped on their yoga mats at the historic Lincoln Memorial, as they were led through a unique yoga, breath and meditation session, by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, setting the tone for an evening filled with soulful performances, inspirational addresses and an unmissable sense of human connection.
Former President of India Ramnath Kovind referred to it as a microcosm of the global family. “ People from mountains to coastal plains, river valleys to deserts have congregated here. In doing so, you (Gurudev) have created a microcosm of the global family,” he said.
The second day of the event included the 10,000 people-strong Garba performance led by the vocals of Grammy winning, Falu Shah, an Indian American singer; a 200-strong euphoric Bhangra performance; Irish step dance; surreal Afghan melodies; a spectacular ensemble of 1,000 Chinese American vocalists and dancers, combined with a Kung Fu performance, joined by majestic dragons and lions brought to life through artistry and imagination; unforgettable performances from Indonesia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Latin American countries; Hip hop and breakdance performers led by legends like Kurtis Blow; 1200-people Gospel choir and mesmerizing performance from Pakistani contingent.