On the occasion of the Art of Living Foundation’s 30th anniversary, visitors from 151 countries converged at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, in numbers greater than 70,000, celebrating Art of Living’s accomplishments and diversity from every corner of the world. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of the World Culture Festival (WCF) 2011.
- Some of the Messages from World Leaders
- Cultural Performances
- The Yoga Park
- The Light of Leadership
- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a portrait
- Invitation to attend WCF 2023
Some of the Messages from World Leaders
Prof. Ruud Lubbers
Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
(Co-Chair of WCF Reception Committee)
“I congratulate Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and express my gratitude and respect for the immense contribution of The Art of Living to global peace. In the world in which we are so connected due to modern technology and global economy and which is so affected by conflict, stress, and frustration, The Art of Living is the way to harmony.”
Co-Chair, Right Livelihood Award
“I am highly impressed by the all-inclusive approach to peace-building and intercultural dialogue as the Foundation not only promotes health and well-being through Yoga but translates its efforts into outstanding results in the humanitarian field.”
Hon. Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal
Minister for Coal, Statistics and Programme
Implementation, Government of India
“The Foundation has been playing a defining role in the lives of the millions of people all over the world. Though the Foundation had its genesis in India, it has been spreading the message of good health, harmony in diversity, and espousing inter-cultural dialogue in more than 150 countries around the world.”
Mr. Josef Winkler
Member of German Parliament,
Board Member Green Party
“I am pleased that the World Culture Festival will provide a precious opportunity for the diverse cultures of this world to come together in an ecumenical spirit of belonging and connectedness!”
Pratibha Devisingh Patil
President, Republic of India
“I am happy to know that the Art of Living is organizing the World Culture Festival to celebrate its 30th Anniversary in Berlin, Germany on July 2-3, 2011
“The Art of Living organization has done credible work in bringing together people of different countries and in promoting global peace, friendship, and better understanding.
“Art of Living has drawn from the Indian ethos and enabled many of its followers from across the world to improve their lives by attaining peace of mind and a sense of well-being.
“On this occasion, I extend my warm greetings and felicitations to all those associated with the organization and wish the World Culture Festival every success.”
Harish Khare, Prime Minister of India
Harish Khare, Media Advisor to the Prime Minister of India
“The Prime Minister is glad to know that the World Cultural Festival is being held on 2nd and 3rd July 2011 in Berlin, Germany, to celebrate the 30 anniversary of The Art of Living.
This unique festival aims to foster harmony in diversity through intercultural dialogue and cultural performances from around the world. The Prime Minister hopes the festival will be able to spread the values of various cultures while celebrating harmony in diversity.
On this occasion, the Prime Minister extends his greetings and good wishes to all those associated with The Art of Living for a successful ‘World Cultural Festival.”
- African Drum Beat for Peace
- Grand Choir Performance, Germany
- Grand Guitar Ensemble for Peace, UK
- Folk Dance, Bulgaria
- Tango Dance, Argentina
- Yoga Performance
- Theme Song “All the Colors of the Rainbow”, Croatia
- One World Family Dance, India
- Laser Performance and “Call of Ancient Love”
- Olive Branch of Peace, Greece
- Cultural Performance, Iraq
- Yekdane Performance, Kosovo
- Shaolin Temple, China, and Germany
Leading up to each day’s headlining events, pavilions surrounding the stadium featured numerous cultural performances from Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and the Americas.
The Yoga Park
The Yoga Park was a space for yogis to mingle, for enthusiasts to practice, and for the curious to explore the various aspects of yoga. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’, which means – to join – uniting the body, breath, and mind in harmony. The park features a yoga museum showcasing the history – depth and breadth – of yoga, pavilions where yoga teachers will present their unique styles of yoga, a yoga conference for those interested in the academic aspects of yoga, and, of course, a vibrant atmosphere where one can be free from the worries and stress of life. We hope your life is enriched by the yoga park in many ways, and you can take this peace and tranquility back with you to your various countries.
“Like a flower bud, human life has the potential to blossom fully. Blossoming of human potential to fullness is yoga.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Three locations, including a Yoga Pavilion, featured:
- Meditation workshop
- Ayurvedic conference
- Kirtan concert
- Partner yoga and yoga dance
- Breathing and Movement workshop
- Sukshma (subtle) Yoga
- Power Yoga workshop
- Qi Gong
- Therapeutic Yoga
The Light of Leadership
2005, the first international women’s conference was held in Bangalore, India. Women from all over the world and from all backgrounds were invited to share their experiences with each other. The 5th Conference was held at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of The Art of Living Foundation.
With its holistic concept, the International Women’s Conference is unlike any other conference. It acknowledges that to excel; women need strength in will, strength in action, and strength in knowledge. Good ideas for solving the challenges that women still face today come when we are relaxed. So every conference highlights meditation and breathing techniques in order to enhance the spiritual aspect of human beings.
What is it that we can do? How can we reduce domestic violence? How can we contribute towards educating the girl child? What about human rights violations? Illiteracy, poverty, hunger, fanaticism? Terrorism, environmental damage, and female foeticide? These are the issues the conferences have dealt with over the years.
The inspiration behind the conference was brilliantly described by Srimati Bhanumati Narasimhan:
“For me, my mother is my inspiration. She was a symbol of strength and love. This combination is really the stepping stone for blossoming in life. Let us extend this sensitivity and care of a mother, which is naturally in us, to society and really bring a positive change on this planet. Leadership is a choice and not a position. A leader is free. A leader is effective, compassionate, and takes responsibility for transformation.”
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a portrait
“The goal is to bring a smile on your face that doesn’t wither away. A smile that no one can take away. A peace that simply expands and spreads to others. A love that never diminishes or distorts. That’s the power that you grow into. It’s better that you don’t worry about the goal.
You be in the moment, you will see you are on a conveyor belt or escalator. The steps take you where you have to go. You have to do nothing.”
Committed to building peace among nations and individuals for over 40 years now, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is faithful to his vision of a stress-free mind and violence-free society. Armed with the tools of Gandhian philosophy, Gurudev has been to the favelas of Brazil, the red zones in Iraq, the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) headquarters in Sri Lanka, and the trauma-hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
Gurudev’s work also sees him addressing audiences of diverse nationalities and backgrounds, including those of the United Nations, prison inmates, corporate management teams, ailing farmers, and school children. By facilitating dialogue between opposing factions and urging people toward reconciliation, Gurudev continues to bridge religious and communal divides. His universal and simple message is that love and wisdom can prevail over hatred and distress.
“Peace comes from within and not from out. If you are peaceful, your surroundings become peaceful, and people around you become peaceful,” says Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He travels to strife-torn places not only to heal the wounds of victims and calm the aggressors but also to galvanize the local population to work toward peaceful co-existence. Gurudev travels to some 40 countries every year, exemplifying his call to globalize wisdom. In 2004 alone, he traveled to 175 cities as part of his ‘Love Moves the World’ Tour.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has reached out to an estimated 500 million people worldwide through personal interactions, public events, teachings, The Art of Living workshops, and humanitarian initiatives. The strength of his message has inspired millions of people globally to broaden their spheres of responsibility, make a huge network of volunteers, and work towards the betterment of the world.
“Unless every member of our global family is peaceful, our peace is incomplete.”
Invitation to attend WCF 2023
This year, the World Culture Festival is in our own “backyard” at the National Mall in Washington DC. Renew, groove, dance, sing, and connect with millions of people who long for more unity and less division.
This WCF will feature performances from 17,000 GLOBAL ARTISTS FROM ALL CULTURAL TRADITIONS
- 1,000+ Guitar Ensemble
- 1,000+ Gospel Choir
- 10,000 Garba Dancers
- 200+ Ukrainian Performers
- 200+ Latin Dancers
- 200+ Hip Hop Dancers
- 100+ Middle Eastern Dancers
- 1,000 Indian Classical Performers
- 100+ Native American Dancers
- 250+ African Musician and Performers
- 100+ Irish Step Dancers
- 300+ Bulgarian Folk Dancers
- 150+ Afghan Musicians and Dervishes
Plus off-stage activities
- Youth Peace Summit
- Morning Yoga for Blissful Life
- Kid’s Corner- Fun and Games for Youngest Festival Goers
- Mindful Oasis- Nourish Your Mental Well-being
- Global Village- A Celebration of Global Cultures and Cuisines
- The Ripple Effect- A Call to Action to Change Your Communities
- Acoustic Avenue- Intimate Solo Performances by Local Musicians
- Food Truck Bonanza- Over 80 Food Trucks
The passes are free; just register at https://wcf.artofliving.org/
The Aim of The Art of Living
To make life a celebration on this planet.
The goals of The Art of Living:
• creating a violence-free, stress-free society
• nurturing a healthy body and happy mind
• engaging communities in preserving nature
• creating unity in diversity
• serving humanity
• realizing the ultimate goal of human life:
spiritual elevation through yoga and meditation
“In the midst of diversity of cultures, the world is one family and one earth, with a common
As a child of four, he was already able to recite the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Sanskrit scripture, and was often found in meditation. His first teacher was Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who had a long association with Mahatma Gandhi. At the age of seventeen, in 1973, he graduated with a degree in both Vedic literature and physics.
After graduation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar started traveling widely and giving talks on Vedic science, arranging conferences on the Vedas and science. He also interacted closely with renowned spiritual teachers such as Anandamayi Ma, Tiruchi Swami, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
In 1981, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar entered a ten-day period of silence in Shimoga, in the Indian state of Karnataka, during which the Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique, was born. With time, the Sudarshan Kriya became the core of The Art of Living courses.
“When there is wisdom, even though there are different viewpoints, there will be no conflict.
Wisdom always views reality from various different angles. Honoring the diversity, and finding unity in it, is wisdom. Celebrating diversity in oneness and finding unity in diversity are the two main aspects of wisdom.”
“Spirit loves diversity. There is not just one type of fruit, one type of people, or one type
of animal in this world. Spirit loves diversity so let’s not confine the spirit to a uniform. Let’s enjoy the diverse variety of creation by honoring them all, respecting and really loving them. We used to use the term “religious tolerance”. I think that these words have become obsolete now. You tolerate only that which you don’t love. Don’t you think so? The time has come to love each other’s religions as one’s own.”
“Non-violence, friendliness, and cooperation must come to be recognized as the new norm, as hallmarks of today’s true hero. Moreover, a sense of pride must be kindled in connection with these qualities, instead of with violence and aggression. “
“A Cosmic or broader vision of a problem. Commitment – Without commitment, you will not be able to move a step forward – we need to have the commitment for peace. Compassion – without compassion, you cannot understand another person’s point of view.”
“Every child should know a little bit about all the different cultures, civilizations, and faiths in the world. Then they will live in harmony, and let others live together as one family.”
“Mental well-being to me is improved perception, improved observation, and improved expression. Like the body grows from the time you are born to the age 21 or 22 and then the body starts deteriorating, our mental age, our mental well-being should grow simultaneously from childhood, we need to keep improving our perception, observation, and our expression, and this has no age, usually, psychologists say 50 or 40 it stops, at middle age our mental observation, expression starts deteriorating. I say if you are practicing yoga or meditation this doesn’t happen. There is no decay of your mental well-being”.
With the aim of bringing together leaders from diverse walks of life, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has hosted a number of symposiums and conferences and has often been invited to contribute in peace-forming and conflict resolution oriented public forums and gatherings worldwide:
• World Economic Forum / Davos
• European Parliament / Brussels
• United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit /New York
• National Dialogue on Integrity Issues / Istanbul
• International Anti-Corruption Conference / Seoul
• World Forum for Ethics in Business, European Parliament / Brussels World Conference on Religion and Peace / Washington
• Inter-faith Harmony: Conference with top Catholic and Hindu Religious Leaders / India
• Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities / Oslo
• International Symposium on Corporate Culture and Spirituality / Bangalore
• Interfaith Conference for World Religious Leaders / Seville
• Highlights of The Art of Living Silver Jubilee / Washington / DC
• Symposium on Human Values, Science and Sustainable Development / Houston
• The Civilization of Peace: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue Conference, Cyprus
World Conference on Spiritual Regeneration and Human Values / Bangalore
• Vedanta and Buddhism Conference / Bangalore
• Addressing 1000 Catholic Priests / India
• Parliament of the World Religions (Keynote Speaker) / Melbourne
• The World Health Organization / Sri Lanka