Voices from WCF

Humbled! What insane energy! This is surreal! The cultural Maha kumbh - sea of humanity, not one girl touched or modesty upstaged or children lost! And that too in Delhi!

Can all the cynics now just take a back seat? The impossible is done!

Thank you Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji and Amitji (Anandam TV) and The Art of Living volunteers led by the graceful cool headed Srividya and my team – Mahrukh, Dhanisa, Ravi, Tarun, Kanika, Sameep and Shradha!

And no I have never done The Art of Living course or follow this gentle amazing man! I was here just to do my work with my dancers and experience it as a neutral party!

How can this enormous show with 37,000 musicians, singers, dancers and 3 lakh people go so smoothly? The gods were watching too what with Lord Indra (Rain god) making his presence felt and yet no one moved! There is no other logical explanation! No event company, only volunteers and not one of them rude, except for the police who had to do their jobs sternly!

I'm stumped! This is nothing but grace!

I believe now there is a power beyond human perception!

I lose to win! Respect to the divine!

- Terence Lewis, Choreographer

Oh what a show it was! I am from Jammu and Kashmir and I really got spell bound by seeing the event of such a big magnitude. I salute the vision of our beloved master Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji. On behalf of our entire team, I’m thankful for getting this opportunity to perform on such a beautiful stage.

After this beautiful experience, I have a strong feeling that the solution of Kashmir’s problem is not through guns, but love, culture, music and dance. Through music and dance, we can really unite people. I hope that we do something to bring peace in the valley under the guidance of our master.

Jai Guru Dev.

- Sunil Sharma (Coordinator of Kashmir group)

The 140 artists that took part in the World Culture Festival had a fabulous time! In the words of Odissi Guru Anirudha Das, "Volunteers ne kuch kami mehsus nahi karne diya. Sub bacche bahut khush the" (Volunteers did not feel a lack of anything. Everybody was very happy). Congratulations for organizing such a spectacular show and at the same time taking such meticulous care of each group!

- Radhika Hoon, Chairperson, Natya Ballet Centre, New Delhi

As a journalist and a participant of the World Culture Festival along with some 3000 people from Latin America, I would like to extend the gratitude of these many thousands, including 800 artists who participated in the Tango and Latin Fire for Peace performance. I have interacted with presidents, CEOs, former PMs, ministers, etc. and each and every one was taken aback by the magnitude and success of this one world family event.

To quote the Vice President of the Andean Parliament, Mr. Hildebrando Tapia, "It has been much more than I have expected. Incredible!"

I am going back home full and wish to come back to India very soon.

- Beatriz Goyoaga, Journalist, Argentina

It was a well-conceived, planned, organized and executed event. Sheer presence in the positivity was a blessing. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this once in a lifetime experience.

- Priya Dixit, Choreographer, Bharat Natyam

We want to be a part of The Art of Living.

We from the North East and never faced any sort of negligence at the festival. I have been to 25 countries to perform but have never seen such a grand event so well managed with love and care and with the feeling of being at home. We are always with Gurudev.

I wish to share with you my thoughts on the presentation of culture from North East in a different way, if possible. We from North East always feel a little segregated from others in different aspects. But while participating in this festival we felt like being at home with so much of love and care that The Art of Living volunteers gave us.

- Dr. Prashanna Gogoi, Choreographer and Ethnomusicologist

When WCF (World Culture Festival) was announced, I was very excited. I felt proud and honored when the organization gave me the whole zonal coordination for the World Culture Festival. I was happy because I had got chance for seva for such a big event.

Later, one more good news came that Guruji had selected Kolhapuri Dhols from Maharashtra, to perform on this international stage. As He said, "1000 Dhol leke aao."

Everyone was happy. We started working on the event. I underwent various experiences while doing all this. The big question in front of me was "Why did Guruji select only Dhangari Dhol as a Maharashtrian cultural performance?" Later I thought that Dhangar is the only community which does have harmony with nature. They throw 'Bhandara' (made of turmeric), use 'Ghongada'' (shawl made up wool) and Kolhapuri chappals. All this connects them to nature and they get protected from heat, cold and rain. They wander in the intense sun. They do have knowledge of Ayurveda. Their traditional instrument is Dhol. Dhangars are always ready to face any challenges.

When they play Dhol, a very sweet and spellbinding sound is produced. And when anyone listens to that sound, they get goosebumps. And that is why I felt that Guruji had decided to start the WCF program with Dhangari Dhols.

When Guruji arrived on stage and the drums (Dhol) were played, the entire area was energetic. The sound of Dhols vitalized the atmosphere.

Dhangari Dhols were so lucky that they got chance to repeat their performance thrice in Delhi.

I feel lucky that I was part of such big event.

Thanks to Gurudev ! And thanks to everyone who contributed to this event.

Jai Gurudev!

- Vinayak Murdande, District teacher coordinator, Dhangari Dhol coordinator

When the World Culture Festival was announced, the mind could not perceive the magnanimity of this historic event that millions witnessed. I was a part of the coordination for the Dhangari Dhol performance - 1100 artists from a simple background known as Dhangars – the shepherd community of Maharashtra. They are very simple, innocent & devoted villagers. We had so many challenges bringing 1100 people together. Wonder how Gurudev – H.H. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji managed to pull off an event of 36,000 + artists on one stage. What really moved me was that in spite of the heavy rains on the first day of the event, none budged from their seats - neither the artists nor the audience. The artists gave overwhelming performances with such zeal that it almost seemed like the rain was a part of their performance.

Gurudev left me dumbstruck. He also stood there fully drenched. We were a group of nearly 2000 people from Kolhapur who attended the WCF. My inbox was full of messages thanking me for inspiring them to be a part of this spectacular event.

- Dimple Gajwani , Coordinator- Dhangari Dhol, Kolhapur

It was fantastic. Loved the dancing (reference to the Poland team dancing the Bhangra on stage). Thank you very much.

- Patrick, Poland

I am so excited to be here. Thank you for all the support you provided. You have been very helpful. God bless you.

- Monika, Performer, Poland

Standing in front of 3.5 million people and performing the German dance was an unbelievable experience. The energy was so high, everybody just needed to smile. It was one of the greatest experiences I ever had and you could really feel the connection to all the people around the world. Also, the different dance groups just connected with each other behind the stage. I loved to be part of this huge celebration.

- Sylvia, Germany

A historic event in my life that I was able to participate as a Buyogan dancer. The 3 magical days of WORLD CULTURE FESTIVAL 2016 in NEW DELHI, INDIA are an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life. To the ART OF LIVING, bahut dhanyavaad. . .

- Reynold Rene Requioma, artist, Philippines

Very nice hospitality from the local team. WCF was a very good experience and we thoroughly enjoyed the event. Appreciate the extra efforts of the local team in getting our props, costumes and mask to the venue.

- Natacha Chindapol 

It was amazing to perform on such a large stage. We have never performed on such a large stage. Thank you so much for giving us this chance.

- Siam Chua Thong

Unforgettable being part of this WCF 2016. Feeling at home, dearly loved and connected with people from all around the world united by the same purpose. It was magical!!! Especially the care and love of those lovely angels that did beyond-the-impossible for me and the Brazilian group all those days. Akilesh Nag, Smita Gupta, Shivam Sharma, Puneet Sachdeva and all the others, my thank you!!!

- Pedro Santos- Performer

And it happened! We were almost 300 on stage representing Brasilia’s joy, diversity and liveliness in New Delhi at the World Culture Festival. The brave dancers overcame the challenges of the rain and brought the audience to cheer and celebrate together! We believe that differences are a chance for us to praise and value the multiple nature of life and cultures, uniting us: WE ARE ONE!

- Bia Gaspar- Coordinator/ Choreographer/Performer

The Taiwan team was very excited about their performance. They reached the venue at 8:30 in morning. They did not even wait for the allocation of the green room and started dressing up in the dining room itself. They wanted to rehearse with full-dress, hairstyle and makeup. Their four photographers and media person were accompanying them. They clicked each and every moment.

They were excited and eagerly waiting for their turn to perform, so when it rained and Guruji announced that the rest of the performance would be postponed to the next day, they got disheartened, but didn’t even complain, though a few of them were returning that day. It was due to their strong sankalpa that Guruji stayed back and told the organizers to continue the program. He asked them to be ready.

After the performance, Guruji himself praised their enthusiasm. They were overwhelmed and in tears. Those were tears of love. In their happiness and excitement, they all hugged me and thanked me. They all are so pure-hearted, lovely, well-disciplined people. Their love is still in my heart. Even the cloak room sevaks appreciated their discipline.

I am so thankful to Guruji for this wonderful opportunity to experience innocent love.

Jai Gurudev.

- Asha Chopra/ V.N Chopra, Country Coordinators - Taiwan team

At the end of the performance, before departing from the venue, all of them bowed down to thank us for all the support and help. Some of the photographs of the Japanese performance are also attached.

- Ramesh Khurana

We are very happy and excited after our performance in WCF. We are also overwhelmed by the hospitality and care extended to our team by the AOL volunteers, right from the airport till the end of the performance, and even after it. We have also enjoyed meeting people from other countries and watching them perform on the stage.

- Amit Kanaskar

It was a dream come true to be a part of the World Culture Festival. We never thought that we could fulfill such a big task. This was only possible by Guruji’s grace and blessings. It was a big and tough challenge to take such illiterate, innocent shepherd community to a big city like Delhi and make them perform at such a big global platform with the help of my 100 colleagues. I feel very proud and happy to be a part of such a “Bhooto Na Bhavishati” kind of an event.

Jai Gurudev.

- Prashant Patil, Coordinator, Kasaba Bawada

With my busy schedule as a cancer special dietitian at a tertiary care hospital, I always wanted to learn and play the flute. When I read about the World Cultural Festival, I immediately registered for participating in the world's biggest symphony as flutist. It's been more than a dream come true as I got the opportunity to perform in front of 3.7 million people with 8499 other musicians beside me. Thank you Gurudev for this platinum opportunity which holds my life's most cherished experience.

- Poonam Shah, Medical Nutrition Therapist

I am working as professor in mechanical engineering at Walchand Institute of Technology, Solapur, Maharashtra. I attended the WCF at Delhi. It was a splendid, disciplined, green program. Guruji has well succeeded in sending the message of One World Family throughout the world by organizing such diverse cultural programs. This is the need of the time, especially for youth, as only love and peace can unite mankind. Thank you, Gurudev and the Art of Living.

- Prof. Prakash Salunkhe, Walchand Institute of Technology, Solapur, Maharashtra

What struck me first at the WCF was the sheer size of the stage - 7acres and 40 feet high! And what came across as a greater surprise was that it had no foundation! It was floating on the Yamuna Plains!

Well, the foundation of the stage lay in the power of love and cultures that upheld the stage, not only on the plains, but extended itself onto the world. I conceived this to be a message for humility- to have a massive presence, but having one that floats, that takes the world in our stride, by keeping close to the ground we rose from.

We are fortunate to witness an epitome of what the stage conveyed - our Gurudev - a personification of humility! And yes, only his love could move the world! Jai Guru Dev. 

- Aparna Kale, Architect

Guruji has given such a global platform to our Dhangar Community, so we are very thankful. We are highly amazed to experience this event. Even in our seven generations we have not experienced such a grand event. We are much honored to be a part of such a huge and grand event of this World Culture Festival. We, and even our coming  generations, will always feel very proud and honored for it.

- Agnu Lavate, Dholwadak, Ichalkaranji

By Guruji’s grace we got a chance to show our talent to perform Dhangari Dhol at such a grand event, so we are very thankful to the Art of Living Foundation. We came to experience how true is the concept of Vasudhaiva Kumtumbhakam and came to know about the art and culture of 155 countries. Through this event Guruji has given our 1000 Dhangari Dhol performers a platform to perform for world peace. We were truly amazed to be a part of such a huge and grand event. Guruji has done this event to take depressed people like us on this global platform. Once again we are very much thankful to Guruji and the entire Art of Living Foundation.

- Biru Oma Pujari, Dholwadak