The fourth edition of the World Culture Festival has come to an end. More than 1 million people from 180 countries around the world gathered on the National Mall in Washington DC for the 3-day celebration of unity and diversity.
More than 17,000 diverse cultural artists, entertainers and speakers took to the largest stage ever built in the US capital from Friday, 29 September, to Sunday, 1 October. The fourth edition of the event was the biggest so far, showing the growing interest in the teachings of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who organised the event through his international, non-profit, educational and humanitarian organization, the Art of Living Foundation.
Sound stretched is music. Movement stretched in rhythm is dance. Mind stretched is meditation. Life stretched is celebration.Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
“The purpose of all sound is to create inner silence, because silence is the mother of creativity, is the house of love and compassion. Silence within us makes us blossom in our true nature, which is joy, which happiness, which is love. I think this is what we all have to dream, dream about a world which is full of celebration, full of compassion and togetherness”, Shankar preached the crows.
The Olympic-sized event brought together performers from all corners of the world, creating a unique cultural tapestry, including, among others, a Chinese cultural performance with 1,000 singers, dancers and dragons, a Garba extravaganza with 7,000 Indian dancers, a 50th anniversary tribute to Hip-Hop with Kurtis Blow, SHA-Rock, Sequence Girls and DJ Kool and other legends of Hip Hop alongside 100 break dancers debuting choreography by King Charles and Kelli Forman, 700 Indian classical dancers with a live symphony, 100 Ukrainian dancers in a lively Hopak and 1,000 guitarists led by Grammy Award winner Micki Free. Tying up the event under its main message of “unity” was the performance of Bob Marley’s grandson, Skip Marley, who paid a tribute to his grandfather with the famous “One Love”.
Leaders of different faiths came together at the festival, all praying for the same global message of rising above hate and bigotry. On the second day, after the performance of the Ukrainian group, a moment of prayer was dedicated for peace in Ukraine and the safety of the Ukrainian people affected by the war.
Gurudev has been a global advocate for mental health for over 43 years and, during this time, has facilitated numerous projects on local, regional, national and international level and has worked with global institutions, multinationals, but also with highly vulnerable, at-risk people and in conflict zones to increase emotional resilience by putting the individual’s mental health at the core of all activities. His message is that meditation is the hygiene of the mind and similarly to brushing teeth every day, people should take time to maintain their mental hygiene through mediation, at least once a day. Conveying this message during the World Culture Festival, Gurudev led a yoga and meditation session in front of the Lincoln Memorial, one of the largest group meditation sessions ever held in the US.
Amid the festival, over 1,000 leaders from business, governments and international institutions convened at the Global Leadership Forum (GLF) on Saturday, 30 September, to exchange ideas and forge partnerships to address key corporate and societal challenges under the theme of “Shaping a Humane Future”.