The first day of the World Culture Festival, 30th Anniversary celebration of The Art of Living held in Berlin on July 2, began with beautiful Sanskrit shlokas and concluded with a grand laser show. In between were the varied cultural performances from Germany, Switzerland, India, Sri Lanka, Canada, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Japan and many other countries.
“The Bulgarian performance made an impression on me. A powerful woman playing the drums reminded me of the Women’s Empowerment conference that was held in the morning,” said Natalia, one of the participants in the World Culture Festival. “Her drumming was fabulous and the whole team of 2000 people from Bulgaria made everyone in the crowd dance in the rain.”
The continuous rains couldn’t dampen the spirits of those gathered there, as the performers just carried on with their enthralling shows. “During the Argentinian Tango performance, the rain was very heavy and dancers kept slipping,” recalled Joanna. “Soon one woman whispered something to her partner, and they moved from the stage to the surrounding grass where the rain could not make them slip. And with that ‘coming down to earth’ they started to smile. And I realised that though beauty is enhanced by skill and talent, true beauty is in a simple smile.”
“It was cold, windy and rainy. But the feeling was of the warmth of love and the joy of belongingness,” added Khurshed Batliwala, an Art of Living Teacher. “I hope they make this an annual festival; it was simply too good to do only once.”
Amidst all the activity and bustle, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living, made everybody share serene moments of peace as he led them in a meditation that he conducted both in German and English.
“Normally dignitaries use translators until their language is very fluent, but Guruji’s simple German sentences during the meditation, besides warming our hearts, brought home the spirit of the whole Festival – if we can just put aside our ego and risk making a mistake, we can just reach out to people,” edifies Michael from Germany. “During the meditation itself, it was truly moving to hear the words from Gurudev in German, ‘Du bist Liebe, Du bist Freude,’ you are peace, you are joy.”
“There was so much creativity on display at the World Culture Festival. It made me realise that if the world could follow the example of the Art of Living, our differences could lead to creativity, instead of conflict and destruction,” expressed Patrick from Poland. It is meditation that can bring about this change. “Out of peaceful meditative minds come new ideas – creativity can replace conflict.”