NOT SO CULTURAL

In photos: Sri Sri doing bad bad things to the dying Yamuna

Quartz india
Quartz india

Just two days before its inauguration, the World Culture Festival—organised by Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar—is already in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The three-day event will mark the 35th anniversary of Shankar’s The Art of Living Foundation.

Organisers say the gala will be staged on the world’s largest such platform, spread across seven acres. Massive structures are being raised on the banks of River Yamuna in New Delhi. Even the mighty Indian Army found a role in the extravaganza, having built two floating bridges across the river.

While some 3.5 million attendees—including India’s prime minister Narendra Modi—are expected to throng the festival, authorities and environmentalists aren’t pleased. Over the past few days, Shankar has faced backlash for flouting green norms, and not having necessary clearances.

Today (March 9), India’s opposition parties even raised the issue in parliament. The Modi government, though, seemed unperturbed. “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is committed towards protecting the environment. It would be wrong to doubt his commitment towards nature,” Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, junior minister for parliamentary affairs, said.

Meanwhile, a video showed a supporter of Shankar openly threatening to kill an environmentalist who has created an online petition against the event.

Here are some pictures that show how the banks of Yamuna are being deck up for the guru’s carnival:

Workers lay carpet on the steps of a stage at the venue of World Culture Festival on the banks of the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, March 8, 2016. Indian environmentalists are aghast at the hosting of a huge cultural festival on the floodplain of Delhi's main river that begins on Friday, warning that the event and its 3.5 million visitors will devastate the area's biodiversity. Picture taken March 8, 2016.
Carpets being laid at the venue. (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)
Workers erect scaffolding to build a stage at the venue of World Culture Festival on the banks of the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, March 8, 2016. Indian environmentalists are aghast at the hosting of a huge cultural festival on the floodplain of Delhi's main river that begins on Friday, warning that the event and its 3.5 million visitors will devastate the area's biodiversity. Picture taken March 8, 2016.
A stage under construction ahead of the celebrations. (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)
Temporary lavatories are seen at the venue of World Culture Festival on the banks of the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, March 8, 2016. Indian environmentalists are aghast at the hosting of a huge cultural festival on the floodplain of Delhi's main river that begins on Friday, warning that the event and its 3.5 million visitors will devastate the area's biodiversity. Picture taken March 8, 2016.
Temporary toilets at the venue. (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)
A worker carries chairs at the venue of World Culture Festival on the banks of the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, March 8, 2016. Indian environmentalists are aghast at the hosting of a huge cultural festival on the floodplain of Delhi's main river that begins on Friday, warning that the event and its 3.5 million visitors will devastate the area's biodiversity. Picture taken March 8, 2016.
Chairs being laid for the expected 3.5 million visitors. (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)
Workers erect a temporary platform to install sound and lights at the venue of World Culture Festival on the banks of the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, March 8, 2016. Indian environmentalists are aghast at the hosting of a huge cultural festival on the floodplain of Delhi's main river that begins on Friday, warning that the event and its 3.5 million visitors will devastate the area's biodiversity. Picture taken March 8, 2016.
Temporary platforms being erected for sound and light at the venue. (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)
Workers lay wires on the stage at the venue of World Culture Festival on the banks of the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, March 8, 2016. Indian environmentalists are aghast at the hosting of a huge cultural festival on the floodplain of Delhi's main river that begins on Friday, warning that the event and its 3.5 million visitors will devastate the area's biodiversity. Picture taken March 8, 2016.
The seven-acre platform that will be the stage for all the performances. (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)
Army soldiers walk on a pontoon bridge laid in the waters of the Yamuna river to reach the venue of World Culture Festival on the banks of the river in New Delhi, India, March 8, 2016. Indian environmentalists are aghast at the hosting of a huge cultural festival on the floodplain of Delhi's main river that begins on Friday, warning that the event and its 3.5 million visitors will devastate the area's biodiversity. Picture taken March 8, 2016.
Army soldiers have installed pontoon bridges on the Yamuna for visitors to reach the venue. (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)

Also read: How the guru of India’s rich and famous lost his peace on the banks of Yamuna

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