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Heavy downpour at AOL Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's cultural festival, PM Modi at the venue

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 11, Mar 2016, 18:56 pm IST | UPDATED: 12, Mar 2016, 11:28 am IST

Heavy downpour at AOL Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's cultural festival, PM Modi at the venue New Delhi: Heavy rain and hailstorm led to chaos at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's massive festival just moments before its grand opening. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending the grand opening of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's World Culture Festival on the banks of the river Yamuna.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressed the inaugural ceremony of the World Culture Festival in New Delhi. The festival has been organized by the Art of Living Foundation, to commemorate 35 years of the organization's service to mankind.

Welcoming people from across the world who have gathered in Delhi for the World Culture Festival, the Prime Minister complimented Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the great work being done by the Art of Living Foundation in over 150 countries.

PM Narendra Modi recalled a reception organized by the Art of Living Foundation in Mongolia, and said that India had a lot to contribute to the world, but in order to be able to do so, it was first necessary to appreciate the uniqueness and the breadth of Indian culture. He said that through the Art of Living, the world has been able to appreciate India.

Speaking at length about "the art of living," the Prime Minister said that the determination to achieve one's goal, in the face of adversity, required, 'the art of living.'

The Prime Minister's address was preceded by addresses from a large number of dignitaries from around the world, and a cultural programme featuring a large number of participants.

The three-day event has been wrapped in controversy for days over the damage to the delicate ecosystem of the river.  Mild hailstorm at the festival venue; people look out for shelter.

Art of Living's trouble-ridden World Cultural Festival is being held to celebrate the foundation’s 35 years in service.

Nearly 36,000 artistes from around the world will perform on what is possibly the world’s largest stage.

Environmentalist Manoj Misra had, last month, petitioned the Tribunal asking that the World Cultural Festival, being organised by Art of Living, not be allowed to use the floodplains near Mayur Vihar.

Though the festival has come under fire for its ecologically-sensitive venue, it was given the go-ahead by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday. NGT said that the floodplains had been damaged in the preparations for the festival but the Art of Living Foundation has maintained that it hasn’t done anything wrong.

All roads to the venue on the banks of the river Yamuna have been blocked.

Here are main developments in the story:

  •       Just moments before the opening, rain and hail led to chaos at the site that features a stage covering six football fields, where 35,000 performers from 150 countries will perform.
  •      Thousands of dancers and children performing on an enormous stage ran for cover when the rain came crashing down. The downpour soon stopped, to everyone's relief.
  •     Moments later, PM Modi arrived and was seated next to Sri Sri and a large contingent of dignitaries on an elaborate stage specially set up for him.
  •     A key road between Delhi and Noida taken by office-goers has been mostly jammed since morning. "Kindly avoid the stretch," the traffic police have tweeted repeatedly.
  •     Lakhs of people from the city and outside are attending Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's three-day festival that opens this evening on the banks of the river Yamuna.
  •     The crush of traffic is expected to worsen because of an event hosted by the spiritual group Radha Soami Satsang Beas in another part of the city.
  •     The police have made an elaborate traffic plan for the Art of Living event.
  •     A parking lot is among the temporary structures set up in an area spanning 1000 acres. But it has limited space, say the police, and will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis.
  •     The police have asked people to avoid major roads in the city's south and east most likely to be choked - the Ring Road stretch in south Delhi, the highway, the Noida Link Road, areas near the Akshardham temple and Mayur Vihar in east Delhi.
  •     People have also been advised to take public transport and avoid going out between 12 noon and 11 pm.
  •     Around 1,700 personnel have been posted to regulate traffic for the Sri Sri event.
  •     Some 20,000 weddings are also being held in the city. For the weddings, special arrangements have been made near Ashram Chowk and other south Delhi areas that include Mehrauli and Chhatarpur, a police officer said.
  •     Heavy traffic has afflicted parts of south Delhi for the Radha Soami Satsang event.
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