ravi Shankar
AICC general secretary Oommen Chandy, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Dr Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan engaged in a conversation during the presentation of the Order of St George Award to Sri Sri at Puthuppally on Sunday.

Founder of The Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was conferred with 'Order of St. George' award as part of the Church's Commemorative Feast. Along with Ravi Shankar, the event was attended by former Kerala Chief Minister Dr Oommen Chandy, and by Dr Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan, who has led the various programmes connected with the Commemorative Feast.

Acknowledging the award, Ravi Shankar pointed out, an award signified more responsibilities that must be taken to serve others.

Talking about Ravi Shankar's role, Oommen Chandy said that this country and the world was blessed to have the presence of a person like Ravi Shankar, who has been working relentlessly for the spiritual awakening of the masses and for the good of society. "He is a symbol of peace and tolerance and he makes the world a better place," the former CM said.

He remembered the times when he was the Chief Minister and the number of times that Ravi Shankar and his organisation - The Art of Living - served the state by doing a lot of humanitarian work in Kerala.

Dr Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan presiding over the celebrations, said, "It is an honour and blessing for Pudupally that he (Gurudev) is here in person to receive the award." He further said that though today the world has become a global village the hearts of people have shrunk and have been filled with selfishness and that love and compassion had gone missing.

"Ravi Shankar binds the world in love and togetherness and transforms it so that peace, reverence and tolerance increase in the world around us," Dr Thomas said.

In his keynote address, Ravi Shankar said, "When you have love in your heart, the whole world is yours and this is the essence of all religions. When you go to the root of every religion you will find the same message-make compassion, love and service the sutra for your life." He also emphasised on the need to strike a balance between love and discipline because love alone can bring chaos and discipline alone can be stifling. Gurudev also spoke about three types of faith one needs to have faith in oneself, faith in the society and faith in the divine. "Know that there are a lot of good people who are doing a lot of good work. Have faith in this. If you see from my eyes, there is no bad person on this earth."

The church, which is considered the Georgian Pilgrim Centre of the East, is known for several traditional rituals such as flag hoisting, fireworks, feeding rice to children for the first time, mass luncheon, ceremonial processions and fireworks, family unions, among others, during the annual Feast. Special Holy Communions will be held on May 6th and 7th. The installation of the golden cross at the main sacrificial altar will also take place on May 6th. This year, it is estimated that 10,001 kgs of rice will be cooked for feeding those who attend the Commemorative Feast.

The martyrdom day of St Geevarghese Sahada was on April 23rd. The annual convention in connection with the Commemorative Feast commenced on April 30th and will conclude on May 5th.

Recipient of the 'Order of St. George', Gurudev has spearheaded an unprecedented worldwide movement for a stress-free, violence-free society. Through a myriad of programs and teachings, a network of organisations including the Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values, and a rapidly growing presence across 155 countries, Sri Sri has reached an estimated 450 million people. Through a number of service initiatives, the organisation has worked to provide trauma relief in conflict zones and in natural disasters, apart from running over 618 free schools in far-flung areas of the country educating 70,000 children, 90 per cent of whom are first generation learners. The organisation has worked towards rejuvenating 41 dried up rivers in four states, increasing availability and conservation of water.