When was the last time you got together with 3.4 million of your closest friends to enjoy a little music, dancing, and delicious Indian food?
If you’re like many of the people currently en route to New Delhi, it’s been ten years since you’ve partied this hard (unless, of course, you’re a regular at Carnaval every year. Then again, that’s usually only 2 million people. A for effort, Carnaval.).
No, if you want to experience one of the biggest, if not the biggest party on the planet, book your airfare ASAP to the World Culture Festival, AKA the event of the decade, which is set to explode in New Delhi from March 11-13, 2016.
The World Culture Festival is oh-so-much-more than a typical art, music, or food festival, though this gathering offers all three of those entertainments in unabashed abundance.
During the three-day festival, which will take place on a massive expanse of land across from the Mayur Vihar-I Metro Station in New Delhi, music and dance troupes, world dignitaries, religious leaders, and devotees will come together to celebrate the idea of a single world culture. Diversity is the name of the game, and world peace reigns supreme as people from all walks of life experience the unity of music, dance, and meditation en masse.
Held once every decade, the World Culture Festival features cultural celebrations (traditional Polish dancing, anyone?), as well as global leadership forums, interfaith meet-ups, forums on business ethics, and millions of people meditating in unison on huge, open fields and ginormous stages that pulse and quiver in the hot New Delhi sun.
During the 2006 World Culture Festival, which was held in Bangalore, 2.5 million people from 110 different countries congregated in support of world peace and intercultural understanding. They weren’t just a bunch of hippies, either; according to the official Festival website, the 2006 crowd was comprised of 1,750 religious, spiritual, and political leaders as well. The 2016 Festival is predicted to be significantly larger, with 3.4 million people projected to attend.
This massive party/sit-in/Hindu-style Woodstock is hosted by the Art of Living Foundation, an organization founded by Indian philanthropist and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Shankar has millions of devotees in 152 countries around the world. Every 10 years, the World Culture Festival serves as a Mecca-like meeting point for like-minded Art of Living members, some of whom pay upwards of $4,000 to get a seat on stage during the festivities.
The World Culture Festival is unique in that it serves as a convergence point for people from all faiths and all walks of life. While VIP seating is reserved for those who can afford it, public entrance to the festival is free, and there is no official religious affiliation or agenda (though many Art of Living devotees subscribe to Hindu traditions, practices, and beliefs).
By sponsoring and promoting such an event, the Art of Living Foundation will celebrate and commemorate thirty-five years of work promoting world peace through stress-reduction and anti-violence initiatives.
Is inner peace really possible when you’re elbowing your way through a crowd of 3.4 million people?
With 3,800 classical Indian musicians accompanying 3.4 million voices chanting Ohm in blissful unison, all signs point to yes.
Rebekah Voss is a freelance writer and the creator of TheHappyPassport.com, an inspiration site for solo female travellers.
All images courtesy Art Of Living Foundation.
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