VARANASI (for India-wide release), July 22: The world’s biggest International Temples Convention and Expo (ITCX) 2023 opened its door with much fanfare of dhol-tasha, shehnai and traditional folk lezim dance to welcome the magnanimous attendance at the Rudraksh Convention Centre in Varanasi today.
The first-of-its-kind event witnessed a celebratory inauguration by some of the India’s most notable leaders that included
● Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat
● Prasad Lad - Chairman, International Temples Convention & Expo 2023 and Member Of Maharashtra Legislative Council
● Giresh Kulkarni - Founder of Temple Connect and International Temples Convention & Expo 2023
● Ashwini Kumar Choubey - Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution of India
● Ashok Tiwari - Mayor of Varanasi.
The inauguration ceremony began with high-energy traditional drum rolls and lezim welcoming guests into the auditorium. On stage, dignitaries Mohan Bhagwat, Ashwini Kumar Chaubey, Ashok Tiwari, Prasad Lad and Giresh Kulkarni offered flowers to the Ganesh idol and lit diyas followed by an intimate Ganesh pooja as pujaris chanted auspicious shlokas. All dignitaries were felicitated with garlands and angavastram.
A motivating/heartening letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered magnanimous support to the initiative of International Temples Convention & Expo 2023. The letter spoke volumes, in which he encouraged the participants to utilise the platform to further the vision of ‘Vikas bhi, Virasat bhi’. He said the participation of people representing hundreds of temples from more than 30 nations augurs well for the strengthening of the temple ecosystem not just in our country, but also globally.
International Temples Convention & Expo 2023 (ITCx) is the world’s first-of-its-kind knowledge sharing event on best practices in temple management that is taking place in the oldest city in the world, Varanasi. Over the next few days from July 22-24, around 1,000 delegates from 32 countries and over 250 temples will soak in the experience of the first-ever gathering to support and uplift organisation, management and administration of temple ecosystems with around 40 sessions.
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Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said, “A huge and extremely critical aspect of temple management is cleanliness because temples are a symbol of purity. Definitely, with the PM’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyan there has been a great effect on temples as well, however with the International Temple Convention we seek to achieve this on a deeper level in every temple in the world - small or big. We need to pass on the legacy of temple service to the next generation for which education and awareness on temple ecosystem is important. In view of the same, we need to solidify every aspect of temple management whether it is hygiene, service or infrastructure - it all must be a robust and effective system for our youth to take forward for generations to come.”
Giresh Kulkarni, Founder of Temple Connect and International Temples Convention & Expo 2023 (ITCX), said, “Temple management has been the oldest and most important topic which has been handled since ages. Temple ecosystems and dependent ecosystems have been benefiting for years together. In earlier ages, temples look at all social activities, or towns, temples have been doing their job gracefully, conducting various activities from education, improvising systems such as sanitisation, solid waste management and new age technology. This generation has seen television media, mobiles and now AI and chatbot initiatives. All these initiatives have been upgraded to the level of corporation and coordination for the temple. All this for convenience for pilgrims, devotees, and anyone visiting the temple. This conference is an epitome of various sessions about devotion, systems management, creating sops, and beyond that coming together, learning, discussing and driving a white paper together and improvising this as any other organised communication. This meetup will work two ways – to meet up with people, interact, and learn from the topic specialist.”
Prasad Lad - Chairman, International Temples Convention & Expo 2023 and Member Of Maharashtra Legislative Council said, “The history of temples in India is more than 5000 years old, and our dharma has held strong through these years without dying. Swami Vivekananda has said that he comes from the world’s oldest dharma, where we accept every dharma, its thought and its truth. This reflects the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (we are a family) - the theme of India’s G20 Presidency. Every devotee who comes to the temple comes with a wish - a wish that is always positive - for themself, their family and friends, their country. Nobody wishes ill in a temple. They come with a positive attitude. And thus, the devotees deserve a positive experience at the temple. Through ITCX, which is the world’s biggest and first-ever event on temple management, we intend to help temples and temple culture across the country develop and reach greater heights by conducting seminars across avenues of education, food donations/prasad & langar management, security, fund management, and even hygiene and cleanliness. The convention is an endeavour to join and bridge temples across India as well as connect dharma and society together.”
Ashwini Kumar Choubey - Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution of India, said, “I congratulate the organisers of the ITCX, and I am grateful to be present here. I give my best wishes to these three-days of mega meet and temple connection. I also congratulate them for having chosen Kashi as the destination for the convention, given its importance and its place at the core of Indian spirituality and culture. Our Indian culture is one of the oldest, and our temples are not limited to being places of worship - they work for educational, medicinal and health, as well as many other humanitarian causes. Furthermore, pilgrim and temple tourism play an important role in overall tourism and contribute significantly to the Indian economy. Today, we are in a glorious era and are rapidly moving towards this direction with the growth of temples. I believe ITCX will further have a considerable impact in empowering temples to flourish in this new era and its environment.”
Ashok Tiwari - Mayor of Varanasi, said “We feel extremely happy and proud that you all are here, in the land of Kashi for this unprecedented event. I hope that through this ITCX, and under the guidance of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, we can inspire the winds of change in Kashi and temple management across the world.”