Sri Sri to visit Iraq on the invitation of Iraqi PM
BANGALORE: Renowned spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Poojya Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will embark on a three-day visit to Iraq from May 22, 2007 at the invitation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Malaki. He will arrive in Baghdad on Tuesday from Amman.
This is for the first time that an Indian spiritual leader is being invited as an ambassador of peace to the conflict-ravaged country by the Government of Iraq. During the visit, Sri Sri will hold discussions on restoring peace in Iraq with the Prime Minister. On Tuesday, Sri Sri will address a public gathering to be attended by several political leaders belonging to Sunni, Shia and Kurdish parties.
On the last day of his visit, Sri Sri will visit the Art of Living centre in Baghdad which has been operational since 2003.
On his way to Baghdad from London, Sri Sri will stop over in Jordanian capital for a day. He is expected to meet His Majesty King Abdullah and Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah apart from holding discussion with the Prime Minister Marouf Al Bakhit. Upon his return from Baghdad, Sri Sri will deliver a public talk at University of Jordan. Before his departure for New Delhi on May 25, an official reception will also be hosted in his honour in Amman.
Since September 2003, The Art of Living has been working under trying circumstances to help the Iraqi people overcome the deep pain and suffering inflicted by the long-drawn warfare and the prevailing uncertainty. Its volunteers have been conducting trauma relief workshops in various parts of Iraq, especially in Baghdad. Medicines and clothes for the body, breathing and meditation exercises for the mind and soul are being provided to the local population. Even at times when most NGOs were compelled to evacuate their volunteers from Iraq in the wake of heightened unrest and kidnapping, the Art of Living stayed put.
Moved by the effective intervention, several Iraqis have completed special trainings to impart the Art of Living techniques to the Iraqi people. In 2006, a batch of 43, mostly women from Baghdad, Basra, Suleimania and Karbala, graduated to be Art of Living teachers. So far, 5,000 Iraqis have undergone the Art of Living trauma relief workshops apart from attending the ayurvedic training camps.
The Art of Living has also initiated a women empowerment project under which local women are given vocational training such as tailoring and computer skills. Over 500 women have benefited from the programme.
Sri Sri's visit is likely to provide further impetus to the Art of Living's initiatives to alleviate the trauma and sufferings of the people of Iraq.