Sri Sri Ravishankar, whose Art of Living Foundation kicked off the World Culture Festival on the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi Friday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the event was watched through live webcast across 161 countries. The event began after days of being embroiled in issues of environmental damage and security concerns.
The spiritual leader, Saturday, tweeted: "161 countries watched the live webcast of the World Culture Festival from over 100,000 unique locations." He had earlier said about 20,000 people from 155 countries were expected to attend the three-day event.
PM Modi, in his address at the inauguration of the event, hit out at critics, calling the festival a "Kumbh Mela of culture." "If we keep criticising ourselves, why would the world look to us?" the prime minister asked.
The Art of Living (AOL) Foundation has been fined Rs 5 crore by the National Green Tribunal as compensation for the environmental damage from the event, of which the foundation deposited Rs 25 lakh Friday. The tribunal has threatened to freeze the Rs 2.5 crore grant given by the Ministry of Culture to the Vyakti Vikas Kendra Trust run by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar if the foundation fails to pay the entire amount.
The event also reportedly led to massive traffic jams in the city, with the unseasonal rains adding to the locals' woes.
[1 lakh = 100,000 | 1 crore = 10 million | 100 crore = 1 billion]