AoL Curtain Raiser for World Cultural Festival

A group of dignitaries - Mafat Patel and Nakul Chand with Vinesh
A group of dignitaries – Mafat Patel and Nakul Chand with Vinesh

CHICAGO: The Art of Living Foundation, Chicago organized a High-Profile Curtain Raiser for the World Cultural Festival on Saturday, February 6 at Sheraton Suites Chicago Elk Grove, a northwest suburb of Chicago.

Art of Living Foundation has scheduled hosting a very unique and educationally entertaining program in New Delhi, for three days beginning March 11 to 13 with an expected attendance of 3.5 million people, including dignitaries and heads of governments from around the world.

O P Meena, Consul at the Consulate General of India, in his Keynote Address, paid rich tributes to the endeavors of the Foundation for peace and harmony not only in India but also globally across the length and breadth of 152 countries. He added that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has brought laurels to India through his humanitarian services, irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. “Thanks to the contribution of people like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, India is fast emerging as the hub of spirituality for the rest of the world”, he added.

Raja Krishnamurthy, Candidate for Illinois 8th District, said that the positive work ethics, spirited values, vibrant culture and inspiring traditions of India have become beacons of light for people from across the globe. A number of religious scholars, who spoke on the occasion, said that while the rituals may vary from religion to religion, their core content remains the same. They urged people to focus on the core content, rather than the rituals of religions.

Rohit Joshi, a Hindu scholar, said that the ultimate goal of people is to attain Nirvana thru peace. “Only those persons who attain peace alone can give it to others and contribute to a peaceful society”, he added.

Minhaj Akhtar, a Muslim scholar, said that Si Sri Ravi Shankar is India’s Humanitarian Ambassador for the rest of the world. “As of today, his work covers 152 countries. We extend our humble might to enable him to include the remaining countries in his social service agenda.”

Brett Cohen, Jewish scholar, said the Indian and Jewish people, with their thousands of years old civilization, have a lot in common, emphasizing the importance of true education. “Education is the super highway to peace, and India and Israel, with their rich educational infrastructure, can contribute to creating a literate, educated, and peaceful world”, he added.

Bridgette Kelling, a Bahai, who spoke on the occasion, said that such values as service to society, building a peaceful world, and mutual coexistence are common across all the world religions. They called for concerted efforts to celebrate them on a much bigger scale.

Earlier, Vinesh Virani, Program Director, welcomed the gathering. He said that the Art of Living Foundation, established by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar 35 years ago, is actively involved in diverse humanitarian and service activities. “True to our motto of a ‘One World Family’, the ensuing World Cultural Festival will be showcasing the cultural diversity of our own community to emphasize its importance on a local and global level”, he added.

The electrifying dance and singing performances were the highlights of the event. A number of talented and trained dancers presented different forms of classical dance. There was a presentation of a semi-classical dance as well.

Dance schools such as Noopura Dance Academy, Nrutya Kalashree Dance Academy, Indian Dance School, Jati Dance Academy, etc. not only showcased the art with their dancers with different genres of dances but also conveyed a gamut of emotions. Their sculpted postures, graceful moves, and incredible “abhinaya” captured everyone’s heart.

Sandeep Kurapati and Nipa Shah rendered a number of hit Bollywood numbers and made the evening an affair to remember. DJ Nilesh added great value to the music and dance segment. The entire event was emceed gracefully by Shalini Parikh and Kevin Sanyasi

There was a segment for guided meditation. All the attendees not only participated in it with enthusiasm but also enjoyed it thoroughly. “The meditation proved to be a bonus for us; we will start practicing it as a part of our life style”, said a large number of the attendees.

The event concluded with a sumptuous dinner which was relished by one and all.

Harish Rao

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