The world’s first International Temples Convention & Expo 2023 concluded at the Rudraksh Convention Centre in Varanasi
The inauguration ceremony of the world’s biggest International Temples Convention and Expo (ITCX) 2023, held today at the Rudraksh Convention Centre in Varanasi, was a spectacular affair that welcomed India’s most illustrious dignitaries and notable leaders amidst traditional drumrolls, folk lezim dance and auspicious chants.
The monumental convention was inaugurated by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat along with Chairman of the convention Shri Prasad Lad (Member Of Maharashtra Legislative Council and founder of the convention, Mr. Giresh Kulkarni (also founder of Temple Connect).
The ceremony was followed by special addresses by
- 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
One of the main highlights of Day 1 of this 3-day event was the presentation of a motivating/heartening letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that 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.
The ITCX 2023 is solely dedicated to the management of temples across the globe and focuses on nurturing and empowering the administration, management and operations of temple ecosystems. The most significant part of the convention is the participation of administrative representatives and heads from devotional institutions of different religions, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism, from across 32 countries.
The sessions of the first day included expert talks, discussions and presentations on sustainable temple management and development practices by a galaxy of like-minded dignitaries, namely Shri. A.V. Dharma Reddy, Executive Officer, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi, National Spokesperson, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Member of Rajya Sabha, Shri Suneel Anchipaka, I.A.S., Director of Tourism, Goa, and Shri. Vinit Dhariwal, Zonal Head, Sr. Vice President, HDFC Bank.
Giresh Kulkarni, the founder of ITCX 2023 and Temple Connect, set the pace for the three-day sessions that would follow. “For the past six months, we invited, met, and took the inputs of various temples on the event structure, and ITCX is the culmination of these conversations. We know how important our temples and their management, operation and administration are. It is for the first time such a significant number of people at the helm of temple management and services have converged in one place. The temple economy is 40 bn dollars, and the 20 bn economy is sitting in this auditorium. We come from different backgrounds, and don’t receive training on the updated version of knowledge, tech, and CCTVs. And if we do, it remains within the community without reaching a larger audience. ITCX promises to facilitate knowledge-sharing with firebrands in the temple ecosystem and drive engaging panel discussions and talks across three days. The convention will also create a white paper of these discussions to communicate to relevant authorities and the government.”
The first day of ITCX also saw Shri Suneel Anchipaka (IAS, Director of Tourism, Goa) conduct a session on ‘Plastic Free Temple Ecosystem.’ Furthermore, Smt Tamilisai Soundarajan (Governor of Telangana & Lt Governor of Puducherry) specially addressed the attendees at the event alongside Shri Kovilur Swamiji (the 14th Pontiff of 214 years old Koviloor Mutt). The Koviloor Mutt was the only mutt which taught the Vedanta philosophy of Adi Shankara in Tamil without discrimination of caste and creed.
The day came to a close with Shri Sunil Verma (IAS, CEO of Kashi Vishwanath Mandir) giving in-depth insights about the ‘The Kashi-Vishwanath Temple Corridor Project’ in Varanasi aimed at transforming pilgrims’ experiences of the temple town in an enriching temple talk session.
ITCX has brought together temple luminaries from diverse backgrounds, sharing invaluable insights on best practices in temple management and services. The discussions have been enriching, igniting a flame of knowledge that will undoubtedly impact temple ecosystems across the country. The first day set the intention of forging stronger connections, fostering innovation, and creating a united vision for the betterment of temple communities and the devotees they serve.