It could well have been the Ganga Ghat in Hardwar as more than a thousand lamps were offered to as many deities who congregated at the Art of Living International Centre from different parts of Karnataka.
The Art of Living was hosting a two-day 'Karnataka Vaibhava’ celebration which saw a unique assembly of 1008 Gram Devatas from villages across Karnataka.
The event, held on May 12,emphasized the importance of Gram Devtas (village deities) and was also a step towards reviving the ‘Grama Devata Utsav’ which is fast losing its significance. The cultural festival intended to serve as a platform to celebrate, explore and showcase the rich splendor of Indian culture and the vibrancy of its roots and wisdom.
Speaking at the occasion Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, "Here we have a congregation of 1008 Devatas from villages and they are the first step in hierarchy of Gods. By their blessings, we can progress in the right path and gain spiritual and material prosperity."
The 1008 Gram Devatas were dressed royally and brought from their respective villages to the Art of Living Centre where they were honored. "Culture is a great mechanism of connecting with society. This festival brought 1008 custodians of ancient culture in a show of oneness. The scale of this event as well as the connection it makes with society and community is of great significance,” said Prashant Kumar organizer from the Art of Living.
Some of the Gram Devatas who were a part of the celebrations were Annamma Devi Nagar Devta from Bangalore; Plague-Maramma from Nagasandra;Goruvinahalli Mahalakshmi; Choudeshwari from Shimoga; Kanakadurgamma from Bellary; Kholapurada Amma from Kunigal; Marikamba from Tiptur; Gram Devatas from Mysore, Channapatna, Kolar, and Malur, among many others.
Celebrations continued on May 13, with the presentation of the “Sri Sri Awards” honouring five personalities from Karnataka for their valuable contribution to society. The recipients of the award are Sri Sudhakar Chaturvedi for contribution to Vedic Literature; Sri A. Nagaraju for his contribution to stage and drama; Sri Siddanna Sahukar for his contribution to badminton as a person living with disability; Sri Gopinath for his contribution to Women and Child Welfare; Sri Siddaraju for his contribution to folk arts, Janapada Kala.
"It's has been a wonderful opportunity for us to experience the ancient wisdom of India brought alive in the modern times by Sri Sri", said Chris Dale from Australia who is visiting India on a spiritual journey with his wife Janette Scott and their daughter Mira.
A noted humanitarian and spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's programs have touched the lives of 370 million people in 152 countries, through numerous service projects, trauma relief, rural education and rekindling the traditions of yoga and meditation in a form that is relevant to the 21st century.