The World Culture Festival

WCF stage

The World Culture Festival (WCF) brought together a multitude of cultures from across the globe to celebrate 35 years of The Art of Living.

Over 37,000 artists from around the world performed on the 7-acre stage, exhibiting their talent to echo the message of unity in diversity.

  • 3 Days of Celebrating Diversity, Plurality & Acceptance
  • One World, One Family
  • 155 Countries, Over 3.7 Million Attendees, 1 Family

WCF Day 1  WCF Day 2 WCF Day 3 

Download World Culture Festival 2016 “Reflections” 

Many thought leaders shared a vision for the world at the WCF. Some glimpses:

WCF SPEAKERS – Day 1

 

  • Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, The Art of Living
    “Today, we are giving out a very strong message of oneness to the whole world when it is so badly needed. We are giving this message today that we can all co-exist with our differences, we can love each other with our differences. Diversity is the nature of this planet, so let us love this diversity.
    Let’s spread the message of peace and harmony through knowledge, culture, art, music, and social service.”
  • Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India
    “It is on the basis of this (The Art of Living) mission’s strength that so many countries around the world today have been united and have come together.”
  • Cmde. Sarvotham Rao, Chairman, Vyakti Vikas Kendra India (VVKI) of The Art of Living
    “The volunteer plays a central role in the Art of Living’s social service outreach. Nearly 600,000 volunteers receive training through around 15,000 teachers each year in India alone, and many of them are engaged in transforming their localities.”
  • Justice R. C. Lahoti, Former Chief Justice of India
    “The World Culture Festival is a confluence of world cultures and is needed the most at this juncture of human history.”
  • Mr. Hakubun Shimomura, Former minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Ministry of Japan
    “Our Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has asked me to give a message. He says, ‘I sincerely hope we can spread world peace through The Art of Living and through His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.’”
  • Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Al Fujairah, United Arab Emirates
    “The Art of Living has worked for the last 35 years through its diverse projects to reform individuals and communities around the world through yoga, breathing techniques, de-addiction drives, and being in harmony with a healthy and spiritual life.”
  • Mr. Michael A. S. Adhin, Vice-President, Suriname
    “My hope is that this (the WCF) may serve as a stepping stone towards helping us to rise above our lower nature and above our individual consciousness, as individuals and as nations.”
  • Mr. Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia
    “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and The Art of Living Foundation are heralds of peace in a planet tormented by conflicts and violence. He teaches us that happiness and peace dwell inside us and that we only need to connect with them in order to live our true essence.”
  • Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament
    “The Art of living has changed the attitudes and lives of thousands of people. I extend my best wishes to Guruji for his unshakeable will to serve mankind.”
  • Mr. Evgeny Kuyvashev, Governor of Sverdlovsk Region, Russia
    “I view the World Culture Festival as a global dialogue between people, between countries and between nationalities.”
  • Mr. Dominique de Villepin, former Prime Minister of France
    “The truth is that every single one of us is the key to change. It is our task to open up to other cultures and other religions, to abandon the comfort and security of our daily lives and to build bridges for a better world. It is our task to invent the weapons of peace to overcome the spirit of war.”
  • Mr. Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice-President of the European Parliament
    “Culture will connect nations and people once again.”
  • Mr. Dace Melbrade, Minister of Culture, Latvia
    “Culture unites the world and, thanks to culture, we find different viewpoints for many of the challenges of the world.”
  • Mr. Kamal Thapa, Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal
    “This massive gathering, the manifestation of unity in diversity, is a fitting tribute to his (Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s) contribution to world peace.”
  • Shri Vaidya Devendra Triguna, Chairman, Akhila Bharatiya Maha Sammelan
    “People from all over the world are attending the event and I firmly believe that India, which was once regarded as Vishwaguru, can once again regain that high pedestal by spreading the values and message of love and peace through The Art of Living.”
  • Mr. Sarunas Birutis, Minister of Culture, Republic of Lithuania
    “The World Culture Festival is the greatest example of how culture and diversity can serve the needs of mankind. A one world family has become the real spirit of this congregation.”
  • Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Cabinet Minister; Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, United Arab Emirates
    “We have a duty as Heads of State and are responsible for our people and the way they deal with one another through the values of tolerance, compassion, and dialogue rather than confrontation, wars, and destruction.”

 

WCF SPEAKERS – Day 2

 

  • Swatantranand Maharajji, Rishikesh, India
    “All the religious and spiritual scriptures in the world and all spiritual leaders that have been in the world have preached one thing only– love, compassion, service, tolerance, and cooperation. It is the duty of all the spiritual leaders in the world to ensure that this lamp of spirituality that is lit is not misused to set anything on fire.”
  • Sri Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji, head of Sri Adichunchanagiri Mahasamsthana Matha, India
    “Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is rightly called the reconciler of all religions. Sri Sri has been promoting the essence of our philosophy and he has been striving to bring together the truth and essence of all the religions to our country too. He has been promoting the legacy of our culture.”
  • H. Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji, Jagadguru Sri Veerasimhasana Math, India
    “With his efforts in organizing the World Culture Festival, the misgivings among communities can be effectively dispelled and inter-community harmony established. The WCF has a deeper undercurrent of bringing together diverse cultures and employing them for cultivating peace rather than using it as a tool for conflict.”
  • Mr. Varuthian Sampathan, Leader of the Opposition, Sri Lanka
    “Our goal is to create a world wherein all its inhabitants live peacefully. Peaceful co-existence leads to prosperity. As responsible leaders and opinion makers, we must work hard to achieve this noble goal of peace. We congratulate the event organizers for organizing this marvelous event that can reach every living being in their own language.”
  • Mr. Ram Jethmalani, Senior Attorney and Rajya Sabha Member, India
    “We should learn to reduce human suffering as much as we can. That should be the principle object of our existence and that is the highest religion that I can talk about. Please take care of those who are suffering from pain and who are not as happy as you.”
  • The Dalai Lama
    “In ahimsa and inter-religious harmony, India sets an example for the rest of the world and I believe the World Culture Festival is taking place in that spirit.”
  • Shri Giani Gurbachan Singhji, Akal Takht Jathedar, India
    “The Art of Living has reached a great milestone and achievement and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has achieved something great and remarkable in a very short span of 35 years – joined all of humanity as one.”
  • Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Durley, Pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church, United States of America
    “We come as one strong bond of brothers and sisters who have made the world a better place – as one people, praying and working together to remove fear, ignorance, and hate and replace them with love, hope, and trust.”
  • Ven. Dhamma Master Hsin Tao, Founder, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
    “Love and compassion combined with wisdom are the key features of all religions. I think if we use this love and compassion along with wisdom, we can treat all the sorrows of the world and solve all the problems as well.”
  • Dr. Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, Grand Mufti and Chairman of the Supreme Iftaa Council, Syrian Arab Republic
    “In our country, we have dreamed and spoken about the beauty of India and Indian civilization for centuries. That’s why I beg God to keep us under His peace and let peace spread among us. From Mecca and Medina, the homeland of all holy prophets, and from Damascus, I salute India and its people.”
  • Mr. Rajnath Singh, Home Minster, India
    “The greatest specialty of India’s culture is its broad vision and mindset. The sages and Rishis in India never limited their idea of a ‘family’ to only their own country’s citizens, rather they considered all the people of the world as their own family and have given the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the whole world is one family.”
  • Shri H.H. Rameshbhai Ozha, Founder, Devka Vidyapeeth and Sandipani Vidyaniketan, India
    “People from all over the world have gathered here today to showcase the art, culture and musical traditions of their countries. The whole world appears to have come together here as a one-world family.”
  • Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Honorable Minister for External Affairs, India
    “People have come even from the crisis-torn and violence-affected countries of the world to attend this festival. People have come on this stage to deliver and support the message of peace, non-violence, and love even from those parts of the world that are still struggling with violence and bitter conflict.
    You (Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) have managed to bring together an unparalleled confluence of art and music in this momentous event.”
  • H.E. Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Rome, Italy
    “Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christianity give an incredible testimony that The Art of Living helps people to get more in whatever faith or tradition they follow. Your work in promoting and fostering international peace within the religions and between the nations of the world based on the interior peace of human beings – is to be commended most highly.”
  • H.H. Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya Vasudevanand
    “Till date, I have never seen such a large gathering of mankind in one place. The founder of this festival, Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji, is a seeker and a Siddha belonging to this very Vedic tradition and he has done a lot to promote and preserve Indian culture everywhere.”
  • Mr. Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister, New Delhi, India
    “I strongly believe that you have blessed us all by arranging this divine congregation of saints and holy spiritual leaders from different parts of India and the many countries of the world. The whole world, today, is looking up to India and this glimpse of the universality of Indian culture, the founding principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, has become a reality today before us in this august occasion of the World Culture Festival.”
  • Swami Rambhadracharya, Founder and Head of Tulsi Peeth, Mathura, India
    “I would urge you all to protect, preserve, and take pride in our cultural wealth and legacy, and also to strive to realize that there is but one divinity within all beings everywhere.”

 

WCF SPEAKERS – Day 3

 

  • Mr. Nikhil Sen, Chairman, SSRVM Trust, India
    “Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s love and compassion is famous all over the world. There’s no one except Gurudev who could have pulled off grand cultural extravaganza.”
  • Mr. Jeff Houk,
    “Gurudev’s vision of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (one-world family) is just beginning here at the WCF and this is the time to renew our commitment, our inspiration, and to move from here throughout the world, transforming one person, one family, one community at a time.”
  • Mr. Hillary Chongwony, Deputy Governor of the Bungoma Region of Kenya
    “We need to be one family and we need to spread this to each and every part of the world. What a great feeling to have people come from various parts and various continents of his world. It is a great testimony that we can be one family on this planet Earth.”
  • Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Urban Development, Government of India
    “The dedication with which so many artistes and musicians have assembled here in their own traditional native attires to showcase their art and cultural heritage in such a dignified manner is commendable. I am also amazed at the volunteers of the Art of Living for the amount of work they have done silently and diligently.”
  • Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik, Former Prime Minister of Norway
    “We all believe in the idea of justice. We all believe in the idea of peace. So, let’s use dialogue, let’s listen to each other, understand and respect each other, and create an inclusive multicultural society all over the world, as you are doing here.”
  • Mr. Mathew Offord, Member of the Parliament, of the Conservative Party United Kingdom
    “The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. David Cameron, has asked me to give you a short message and he says: ‘I would like to also extend an invitation to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to visit the United Kingdom that he please visit us in the House of Parliament and in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. I can assure him of a great welcome.’”
  • Mr. Hernon Penagos, Member of Parliament, Colombia
    “Gurudev’s teachings have brought a lot of hope for the Columbian people. You have contributed to change the mindset of those who were creating war in Colombia. That is why, Gurudev, on behalf of the Colombian Parliament and personally, I want to express my great admiration, gratitude and love for you.”
  • Mr. Jo Leinen, Member of the European Parliament
    “This is one of the most impressive and most outstanding gatherings to take place in this whole world. I urge everyone to live the message of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The world needs inspiration from India. I think yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda should be a world heritage that must be practiced everywhere.”
  • Mr. Nirj Deva, Member of European Parliament
    “We have more work to do. We have one billion people more to remove from extreme poverty. We have to protect our environment we have to protect our water resources. I urge the gathering to take a pledge towards achieving this end.”
  • Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Government of India
    “From the principles, the experiences and the sheer environment you have helped rekindle and promote through this Maha Kumbh of the World Culture Festival, may the message of peace, compassion, and universal brotherhood spread far and wide.”
  • Mr. Arun Jaitley, Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Government of India
    “I am amazed at the short duration of 35 years in which people from so many countries around the world have been attracted to The Art of Living. This admirable and unparalleled effort that Gurudev has made is without a second and truly amazing. It is a matter of pride that you have thought India worthy of hosting such a grand festival and this message of peace and harmony goes out from New Delhi to the entire world.”
  • Mr. Amit Shah, President, Bharatiya Janata Party, India
    “The whole world tries to come together through the medium of business and trade. But you, Gurudev, through the medium of culture, have made an extremely successful initiative to unite and bring the whole world together. This commendable initiative of The Art of Living will go down in the cultural history of the world in golden letters and will find a very unique place of its own in the annals of the history of the world.”
  • Mr. Armin Laschet, Deputy Chairman of the Ruling Christian Democratic Party, Germany
    “I wish that the spirit of Sri Sri, the spirit of this act of understanding, the spirit of this Festival will change the world in the days, months and years to come. Let’s work together on this project of peace.”
  • Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria
    “When there are differences, let’s continue to appreciate our culture, which this World Culture Festival has brought us to appreciate. Let’s dance, let’s sing, let’s make merry, let’s have fun, and let’s join hands and move forward together because that is the purpose of our existence in this world.”
  • Mr. Piyush Goel, Minister for Coal, New, and Renewable Energy, Government of India
    “All of us gathered here today should take this message of peace and a one-world family—treating all human beings as brothers and sisters—to all parts of the world. This message transcends religion, nations, and all other boundaries and binds humanity today.”
  • Mr. Geoffrey Van Orden, Member of the Conservative Party, United Kingdom
    “I congratulate all the performers and all the organizers and volunteers behind this amazing festival! We can all learn from one another. Duty, faith, and tolerance should be our guide. A world community of peaceful, free nations and a one-world family should be our aim.”
  • Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister for Railways, Government of India
    “The World Culture Festival is a very unique festival in which over 155 countries have come to participate. It is like looking at a mini United Nations. In the UN, you have the Security Council to look into and provide a secure future to the world. I think this festival is the best way to bring about security in the world by uniting different cultures and people from different backgrounds together.”
  • Mr. Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, India
    “I am very sure that a message of love will spread to the entire world. The message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Krunvanto Vishwam Aryam – let us build an ideal, cultured and peaceful society – shall definitely go out into the whole world.”
  • Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister, New Delhi, India
    “Violence cannot be cured by violence in turn. Violence and hatred can only be won over by love and peace. This is the very message that Gurudev is giving us all today through spirituality, and through his love and compassion.”
  • Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Spiritual leader and founder of The Art of Living, India
    “When we are strong and established from within, then we can provide safety and security to the whole world. When we are shaky inside, then we cannot do so. Our job is to unite the hearts and minds of everyone, and this we will continue doing with a smile.”
  • Mr. Khil Raj Regmi, Former Prime Minister of Nepal
    “Seeing the participation and presence of people from around the globe at the World Cultural Festival, I feel that the Festival has been able to give life to a one-world family, which has been the objective of The Art of Living.”
  • Mr. R.V. Deshpande, Minister of Higher Education and Tourism, Government of Karnataka, India
    “Amid the tension and worries of this world, struggle and war, The Art of Living has done commendable work in the past 35 years of its existence. Art of Living’s message of global peace and transforming the core values of humanity is commendable.”
  • Mr. Michael Perlis, President and CEO of Forbes Media LLC, United States of America
    “We feel that to be a good company – we need good core human values and human intent of the highest order.”
  • Mr. Kamal Thapa, Deputy Prime Minister, Nepal
    “The absence of a stable economy breeds poverty, deprivation and encroachment over people’s faith and culture –which in the end paves the way for confrontation. The foundation of peace is dependent on democracy, market economy and culture. It is imperative that we ensure inclusion of all communities in the society.”
  • Mr. Olusegum Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria
    “Leaders today must think globally, act locally, cooperatively and inclusively. No country can grow in isolation. Therefore, leaders must be proactive, they must work together. There is a need for an environment to be created for dealing with these issues, which will determine whether we have peace in future or not.”
  • Mr. Kishore Biyani, Chairman, Group CEO, Future Group, India
    “The retail world is all about basics, to grow one needs to follow a sustainable practice. Looking at the future, one must enable latest innovations in technology with a sustainable retail model.”
  • Mr. Nirj Deva, Member of European Parliament
    “The world is changing rapidly and we need to be part of that change. Communalization will become the way of the future. We need to stop regulations that kill enterprise and give rise to innovations and ideas.”
  • Prof. GL Peiris, Former Foreign Minister, Sri Lanka
    “Sri Lanka is a country that builds its society where everyone belongs. We thrive on growing together and building trust and offering support to our citizens. This I believe is the way Sri Lanka will grow. “
  • Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson, State Bank of India
    “Ethics and profitability are correlated. Companies that are ethical outlive their profitability. We truly believe in economic growth of every individual starting from the lowest strata and moving upwards. We, as a country and organization, will only progress by repeatedly showing trust and implementing ethical values.”