Updated: Oct 14
I stand for peace; was the sticker I was given as I walked down the National Mall with a glimpse of the Capitol in the distance in the beautiful 80-degree weather. I heard blaring rhythmic sounds and witnessed people dancing and singing, lying in the grass, waiting in long lines to get delicious food, meditating, and enjoying the weather. I then walked further and saw the arch that read “World Culture Festival 2023”. I had finally made it to the World Culture Fest for the first time and was happy to be in the presence of peacefulness.
This free three-day festival that occurred in Washington DC from September 29 through October 1, 2023, was one of the most unified events I have ever attended. This event was available live and virtually so that it could reach the masses. Not only was there a meditation and breathing oasis there were various participatory activities that allowed for time of reflection and appreciation. One activity and reflective exhibit that was there was writing a message on a heart and pinning it up for everyone to read. It was so amazing and breathtaking to glance over the hundreds of messages written on the colorful hearts. The event also comprised of a kid’s zone and yoga.
The World Culture Festival was brought to us by the Art of Living Foundation and their visionary and spiritual leader Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Gurudev believed that the whole world is one family and that we can coexist even with our differences. There were books from the spiritual leader that were available for purchase in the bookstore tent. Not only does The Art of Living organize multicultural events, but the Art of Living Foundation also has a free cell phone application that provides you with tools for contributing to a calm and stress-free lifestyle through breathing techniques, seminars, and many other resources.
Click below to see more about The Art of Living Foundation and its Spiritual leader
The World Culture Festival commemorates and showcases the diversity of cultures from around the world. The World Culture Festival exhibits the traditions, art, music, dance, food, and customs of various countries and regions. Over 180 countries were represented through food, dance, and music. There were over 17,000 global artists with music ranging from Hip-Hop to reggae, to Washington DCs own GoGo, to Native American traditional dancing, folklore, and so forth. All of the live music was so unique and truly embodied their country. Food trucks lined the street while different culture cafés lined the sidewalk representing the various cuisines. There were also numerous leaders from different countries who spoke and expressed their gratitude and appreciation during the event. The World Culture Festival was equivalent to taking a free trip around the world without having to have a passport.
Click below to see more information on the Art of Living's meditation techniques
The World Culture Festival expressed and displayed that even though we are all different we have one goal and mission in mind, which is unifying through peace. Day one and day two lasted from 6 pm to 9:30 pm, while the final day started at 9 am and concluded at 1 pm. Each day there were so many different global artists performing. I believe my favorite day was the last especially because I got to witness the celebration of 50 years of Hip Hop with legend Kurtis Blow, breakdancing, and graffiti. There was no bad area to stand or sit at the entire event as there were jumbotrons set up throughout the National Mall.
This three-day event had one of the most momentous occurrences when there was a moment of silence. Everyone was so silent you could hear a pin drop, it was also a great time to quietly reflect. I think all the people present understood that even though we’re all different culturally, we all can stand together in peace. I also do not believe there was even a thought of anything negative occurring during the event as everyone was in tune with themselves and one another and understood that we were there to come together for peace.
Everyone was so eager to cheer on and dance along with the live entertainment and I enjoyed watching every bit of it. There was nothing cooler than watching people from different walks of life dance to different music while holding and waving their country’s flag. There were plenty of security officers present to ensure the safety of everyone who attended the event.
The World Culture Festival was perfect for everyone. There were so many families present. The World Culture Festival provided a platform for people to come together, learn about different cultures, and celebrate the beauty of our global cultural heritage. The World Culture Festival afforded me the best opportunity to broaden my cultural horizons and engage with people from so many different walks of life. The festival brought about a lot of reflection and appreciation for everyone’s cultural differences. We can indeed coexist with our differences.
I think what was most rewarding, was that my best friend was able to accompany me to the World Culture Festival. My best friend told me, never did she imagine she would wake up and see the Hip Hop Legend Kurtis Blow. She was so excited. She expressed that she felt that she was able to have a glimpse of what is important to different cultures, and she wanted to implement that into her life. What she enjoyed the most was coming together and being mindful through meditation in the meditation oasis. Taking time for mindfulness and breathing is very important to her as she has been going through a spiritual journey recently. Unity is important but also not forgetting about self is vital which is what she gathered from the meditation. My best friend also enjoyed dancing to different country’s music. I caught her dancing around to Mexico’s traditional performance. My best friend also downloaded the Art of Living application on her phone which she has used every day since the event.
Being a native Washingtonian, I was happy to be able to have attended such a momentous and meaningful event and I cannot wait to attend the event next year.