Sri Sri Ravi Shankar commends volunteers for success of World Culture Festival

The Art of Living volunteers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ahead of the World Culture Festival. PHOTO: The Art of Living Foundation

Washington DC: Founder of The Art of Living and global humanitarian, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar praised the diligence and dedication of volunteers for the overall success of the fourth World Culture Festival (WCF), that drew over one million people from around the world spanning diverse backgrounds.

“This can happen only when there is a volunteer spirit,” Gurudev told News India Times, adding “The Art of Living [AOL] is a volunteer-based organization. So, all volunteers came together to help organize this huge event. More than, 17,000 artists representing 60 cultures from around the world performed pro-bono.”

Gurudev’s sister and Chairperson of AOL’s Women’s Welfare and Childcare Programs, Bhanumathi Narasimhan told News India Times, “The volunteers find inspiration in Gurudev’s wisdom, his impactful presence, and genuine connection. Numerous individuals among us have experienced positive changes.” She went on to say that transformations and miracles are so profound that volunteers could compile a book detailing their experiences since encountering Gurudev, and the impact of practices such as Sudarshan Kriya.

Talking about the “Spirit of volunteers,” and Gurudev’s “Inspiration behind all of these efforts,” she said volunteers worked for 20-22 hours a day, but their meditation practices and breathing techniques mitigated fatigue.

Calling “Volunteerism, an act of love, and not labor,” Narasimhan added, “Time and again we have witnessed these magical moments with the wonderful work of volunteers. Because we all feel we belong to each other, and we believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – The World Is One Family culture.”

Founder of Indiaspora, MR Rangaswami, who was on the Organizing Committee of WCF told News India Times, “Congratulations to Gurudev for envisioning such an amazing festival where over a million people gathered over three days. This extraordinary feat was accomplished by thousands of volunteers who brought all these groups from around the world and organized a smooth and successful gathering. I have never seen anything like this before.”

“This was a collective effort of more than 10,000 volunteers from all over the world who worked so cohesively and smoothly across all the different verticals,” said AOL’s Media Coordinator, Kushal Choksi noting it was such a matter of pride for the AOL Foundation that the event was organized by volunteers.

He said, volunteers were part of every work stream; logistics, food, transportation, booking hotels for visitors, arranging security, talking to Mayor’s office, fund raising, media and marketing, all while aligning with Gurudev’s central vision around creating a stress and violence free society.

Choksi said Gurudev himself was “So inspirational and instrumental in putting this event together,” noting that Gurudev travelled to over 40 cities in the United States talking about the significance of coming together to celebrate. He also conducted meditation sessions across all eight wards in Washington DC, with AOL volunteers contributing to the America Meditates Campaign by teaching meditation and yoga, Choksi said.

According to Choksi, some Congressional members and the senior leadership from the White House were unable to attend the festival as they were busy handling the then looming Government shutdown crisis.

Gaurav Gaur, resident of the Bangalore Ashram said he came to US three months ago to help with WCF. “The idea was to bring people from 180 different countries in the spirit of celebration and togetherness,” added Gaur, who has been working on creating awareness about the festival and getting everybody to join this amazing initiative that Gurudev has undertaken.

Andrew Keaveney from Tennessee emphasized “Gurudev’s vision of bringing people together and being in harmony,” especially in a society marked by stress and division. Keaveney has been volunteering, since April, on marketing, media, and video production.

“People from all walks of society came together and contributed in whichever way they can to make it successful” said Raman Ahuja from Seattle who has been in DC for the last three months to help with fundraising.

Mary Correa from Argentina said she has been helping with outreach efforts for the past five months. She was tasked with coordinating with Latino-American organizations, community leaders, and the media.

“All volunteers worked diligently keeping in mind to make the three-day festival successful,” said Katalina Lozano from Colombia. “People from all over the world came not only to participate but also to help with the festival.”

Purvi Patel from Florida, who has been helping with WCF for the past 5 months said she was happy that the event was successful. She along with her core team helped put together a performance involving 10,000 garba dancers at WCF.



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