by Sylaja Kannan
The power of ancient love extremely evident today at the Olympistadion, Berlin. As I walked into the stadium, my tickets were checked by an Argentinian, I received directions at the Information Center from an American, ate lunch which was sponsored by an Indian friend, swapped stories at lunch with a lady from France, clicked snaps with a budding African designer, and was sheltered from the rain by a German lady who was kind enough to share her umbrella with me! Although we are all different, there was undoubtedly a connection at work here amongst us all, call it one World family or we all children of the same god, but the power of ancient love was at its best today.
I also visited the European, African, and Asia Pacific pavilions where I could sample traditional (as well as contemporary) cuisines, music, and dance. Some, such as the Indians, Tunisians, and South Africans were dressed in traditional clothes and were selling products from their countries. Zahia Ocnelle and Emaan Maygre from Tunisia put up a stall in which they are selling products from Tunisia because they want more people to learn about Tunisia. Products sold: drums, sandals, bags, wooden utensils, decoration items, handmade soaps. Proceeds from the sales will go to the people in Tunisia to buy clothes, celebration, money for goat. Goat is very important for them.
Although the themes varied at each pavilion, the crowd was the same at each one of them: happy, enthusiastic, and energetic.
I wondered what brought so many different people to one destination for two days? The answer was unanimous: one person and one mission. The person is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who teaches Sudarshan Kriya (a rhythmic breathing technique), which has changed the lives of many. Jameelatt Carver, volunteer at the World Culture Festival shares, “My mother is my inspiration. After my mother did the Sudarshan Kriya, whatever things I’d do as a teenager didn’t shake her. Sudarshan Kriya gives me much more energy, clarity. I am a happier person, so I can bring more happiness to others. ”
The message I received from most people was the same. People wanted a better, more peaceful world. More importantly, they saw themselves as change agents – willing to facilitate this change.
It is freezing here but people have warm hearts
It was a really cold, windy day today. People huddled in groups to keep themselves warm. Inspite of the harsh weather conditions, Art of Living volunteers and other professional performers took the stage. Their commitment was so admirable. It was so windy once that the Yoga mat of a Art of Living Yoga performer flew away across the field! Yet the enthusiasm was undeterred. Tango dancers from Argentina were shivering in the cold, yet they danced. Ballerina dancers from St. Petersburg performed the Swan Lake on a wet stage! Each and every performance was par excellence! I cheered not only for the excellent performance but also their attitude. I learnt a very important lesson today: Commitment to a cause can help one overcome any roadblocks that might appear in the path. I have no idea where all the energy comes from to get that extra push to get things done, but it does and I saw it in action yesterday.
While the performers shivered and performed on the center stage, the audience shivered and cheered! The audience found interesting ways to keep themselves warm: dancing, running, jumping, massaging each others’ backs and yoga!
Thousands meditated at the stadium and millions joined from across the globe through LIVE webcast. The peace meditation with Sri Sri was a beautiful experience and an eye opener on many levels. It was so cold that I was wearing four layers of clothes and two trousers! Yet, when Sri Sri asked us to close our eyes, I stopped fidgeting, shivering, or even trying to wipe away the raindrops from my cheek. Somehow all that did not mater any more. I realized that the shivering was only at one level – the body. At another level, the mind, I was completely at peace and at ease. The theme song of the WCF was the Colors of the Rainbow. As I opened my eyes after meditation, I could see the colors of the rainbow on the spotlight which was hit with raindrops. There was a sense of well-being and happiness and smiles everywhere. The WCF was a commitment of thousands to celebrate despite the harsh weather conditions. I decided last night that if I and thousands others could be happy last evening in spite of the rain and the cold, I can definitely be happy every moment of my life. The performers who took the stage yesterday were no less than warriors- celebration warriors with a commitment to celebrate in every situation. These are the important lessons I am going to take home with me: commitment and celebration.
(Sylaja Kannan loves life, chocolates and is a teacher of The Art of Living. Not a formal ‘writer’, Sylaja was surprised after reading this piece. ‘Was it me, who wrote this?’ she wondered.)