Around 250 delegates of over 32 countries and more than 25 ancient traditions, were present at the inauguration of the 6th International Gathering of Elders in Mumbai, India.
Written By: Sachin Nandha
Around 250 delegates of over 32 countries and more than 25 ancient traditions, were present at the inauguration of the 6th International Gathering of Elders in Mumbai, India, between February 1st and February 4th 2018.
Every morning there would be morning rituals and salutations to the morning sun rising in the east over looking the forested hills around Keshav Shristi. In an iconic setting, removed from the hustle and bustle of India's urban life, the venue of the conference was idyllic, with birdsong reverberating throughout the campus. In the afternoon, the shade provided by tree canopies was welcome, and the lawns were lush green and moist. With delicious, and relatively mild food, catering for the international pallet, and the warmth & organisation shown by the local volunteers was a real highlight.
The ICCS is a platform to bring together ancient traditions from around the world. The premise being that all of these ancient traditions although having outward differences in expression and utterance, share the same underlying reverence for Nature and are truly plural. Hindu society, being the oldest, and arguably most vibrant ancient tradition in the world, which can still be classed, in some sense as a flourishing civilisation, naturally takes on the mantle of host. The international gatherings are a platform which takes shape every 3 years to help elders build meaningful relationships with each other, and share stories, as well as build global support networks to resist the ongoing persecution that is happening globally by various governments and some Christian and Islamic groups.
"The first step in causing the paradigm shift is to build meaningful relationships, and real understanding first with the Elders, and then with the young people who will have the energy and conviction to work towards a way out of the apparent quagmire".
A Yezidi group arriving from Armenia and Iraq not only shared their heart-wrenching stories about the atrocities they have faced from Islamic State groups; but also sang the Indian national anthem in Hindi to a rising ovation from the 250-strong audience. A genuine feeling of warmth and camaraderie was felt. Folk songs from around the world were sang, and various classical dance performances were showcased. It was as much of a celebration of these cultures as it was an educational, networking conference.
Elders, like Pat McCabe from the Diné Nation, raised in the Lakota tradition of the Native American peoples, spoke eloquently, while remaining hard-hitting in her keynote address that ancient traditions must come together in a real meaningful sense in order to push back against the socio-economic forces harming the Earth. The emphasis on feminine divine was the set theme, and a special focus was set on protecting, nourishing and living harmoniously with Nature. The role of women in ancient traditions was a recurring theme throughout the workshops which re-enforced the idea that women must come to play a central role as an equal partner in shaping our society. Papers highlighting linguistic commonalities, to ritual similarities, and shared experiences of colonialism were presented. All combing to make a powerful impact on the delegates that their concerns are not local, but global, and that their response too must be global and not only local.
The challenge seems clear enough. And the solution is equally as clear – that of a complete overhaul of the socio-political-economic framework in which our societies operate underpinned by a Judeo- Christian narrative. The first step in causing the paradigm shift is to build meaningful relationships, and real understanding first with the Elders, and then with the young people who will have the energy and conviction to work towards a way out of the apparent quagmire.