Controversy took a backseat as chaos took over at the Art of Living’s World Culture Festival that started on Friday.
Rain made things difficult for organisers as well as the audience. But showers did not dampen the spirit as people came — some directly from railway stations and the airport — to participate in what is touted to be the biggest public gathering in the city.
The management, however, left much to be desired.
With most people coming to the venue from the nearest Metro station, Mayur Vihar Extension, the public had to walk for more than an hour before they could catch even the sight of the venue. It was not only a long walk but required walking through wet mud with feet immersed in muck.
“We have been walking for more than an hour. I had not expected that we had to walk through such dirt and stink,” said Maira, who had come from Brazil.
There were huge poles with lamps mounted on them, but most of them, especially at the periphery of the main venue, were dysfunctional. The light one could see was only on the area towards the stage. With muck on the way up to the venue, some used the phone’s flashlight to find the way.
Bajirao Bagpal, who had come from Solapur district in Maharashtra, said that he had not expected the venue to be such.
“We are a group of 31 people from Solapur. It was difficult to walk especially because there are many old people here,” he said.
With snack and cold drink stalls dotting the long walk, garbage has already started to pile up on the floodplain.
Inside the venue, sanitation is better with volunteers making sure all trash is picked up and thrown in trash cans.
Men, however, were spotted urinating in corners everywhere — along the walk paths and inside the venue.
Long lines formed outside portable toilets that have been placed at several spots.
Rain played the biggest spoilsport. The entire stretch that general public had to walk became slippery since it is packed mud and not a tarred stretch.
Kajal and Tillu, teenage vendors from Chandigarh, made the best of the situation and started to sell plastic sheets to people to protect themselves from rain. Each sheet at `30.
While people may have been able to protect themselves from the rain, many were disappointed after reaching the venue as they could see nothing on the 7-acre stage. Screens set up across the length and breadth of the venue didn’t work because of the rain.
“We came here an hour ago but are planning to leave early because we can’t see anything that’s happening. The rain has spoiled the experience,” said Human Sahu, who came to Delhi for the festival from Chhattisgarh.