Two Day National Symposium on Spiritual Tourism organized by Pondicherry University

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The Department of Tourism Studies, Pondicherry University organized a spate of sessions which configured five Experiential Sessions; two Panel Discussion sessions, two Workshops; three Distinguished Addresses, and a session on presentation of research papers.

The Inaugural Function was held at the Cultural-cum-Convention Centre of Pondicherry University to mark the International Yoga Day Sri.K. Lakshminarayanan, Minister for Tourism, Govt. of Puducherry inaugurated the Symposium. 

Prof. Gurmeet Singh, Vice- Chancellor, Pondicherry University and Chief Patron of the Conference presided over the function. Prof. Pawan Kumar Singh, Director, Indian Institute of Management, Trichy delivered the Keynote Address. Prof.Alka Kumar Das Mohapatra, Vice- Chancellor, Odisha State Open University and Sri.Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society were the Guests of Honour for the function. The event was felicitated by Prof. Malabika Deo, Dean, School of Management, Pondicherry University. Dr.Anu Chandran, Head of the Department & Organising Secretary of the Symposium welcomed the gathering. Prof. Sampada Kumar Swain, Convener presented the Scope of the Symposium. 

Vote of Thanks was proposed by Ms. Reena Esther Rani, Lead Scholar Coordinator. The Compendium of Research Abstracts was released during the occasion.

The main objective of the Symposium is to initiate dialogue among the stakeholders and the think tanks for the Preservation, Interpretation, and Promotion of Spiritual Tourism in India. India basks in the glory of a rich heritage and culture providing abundant opportunities for innovations in Spiritual Tourism. This is the first of its kind Symposium to be proposed by an educational institution to organize at the National Level and with representations of key resource persons to discuss and deliberate on the richness of spiritualism and its significance in the context of promotion of tourism. Organizing this Symposium in the backdrop of the spiritual reverberations of Sri Aurobindo and in Puducherry which is His seat of Tapasya confirms with the vibrations of the place for the event.

Sri. K.Lakshminarayanan in his inaugural address stated that the deliberations of the Symposium will go a long way in finding solutions to the challenges faced by the progressive ideals of Spiritual Tourism. Prof.Gurmeet Singh, VC, underscored the profound relevance of the themes as having path breaking effects on leveraging the synergy between industry, academia and the public sector agencies in the realm of spiritual tourism. 

Prof. Pawan Kumar Singh, Director, IIM in his Keynote Address advised all tourism stakeholders to formulate a blueprint for the promotion of spiritual tourism by ingraining the essence of Indian traditions. While rendering some real life examples, he opined that spiritual tourism is drawing attention of the world travel leaders and tourism organisations. 

Prof. Alka Mohapatra delved on the significance of innovation, organisation and standardisation in the sphere of spiritual tourism. He said that the time is just ripe for in-depth studies into the travel motives and how best these can be addressed to make the country a viable place for the exponentially growing number of domestic and international spiritual travelers. 

Sri. Pradeep Narang expressed ardent hope that the Symposium at the national scale can galvanise the action-plans to position India as a pioneer and leader in spiritual tourism.

The Technical Sessions as well as the Experiential Sessions were held. The experiential Sessions configured Mindfulness Meditation- handled by Ms.Thaiyal Nayagi, Art of Living, Puducherry; Taichi and Qigong- handled by Sifu. T.V.Ranga Rao, Core Taichi, Chennai; Music Therapy and Tibetan Spiritual Sound Healing – handled by Ranjana R, Sound Healing and Hypnotherapy, Coimbatore; Dance of Universal Peace for embodied Collective Spirituality – handled by Ms.Prem Shakti, Auroville, and session on Vedic Chanting handled by traditional Vedapathis.

The workshop on Basics of Yoga Asanas had Yogacharya Sujatha ma Oshodhara as the Resource Person and the workshop on Elements of Wellness in Indian Spirituality had Dr.Deepa George, Ayurananda Ayurvedic Clinic as resource Person. The three distinguished addresses comprised Prof. Godavarish Mishra, School of Philosophy and Humanities, Nalanda University, Bihar, address on Indian Spirituality, Tourism and Enrichment of Values; Prof. Narottam Gaan, former Professor in Political Science, IGNTU, Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh address on Peace and Spirituality in Indian Scriptures; and Ms.Lakshmi Jyothi, Tourism Consultant address on The Grand Narrative of India based on Sri Aurobindo’s Thoughts.

The two Panel Discussion sessions were on the themes “Spiritual Tourism vis-à-vis Preservation of Culture and Heritage” and “Marketing Spiritual Tourism in India: Trends and Challenges”. Prof.G.J.Sudhakar, Professor Emeritus, CPR Institute of Indological Research, Chennai was the Chairperson for the first Panel Discussion and Prof.Arup Kumar Bakshi, Dept. of Management and Business Administration, Aliah University, Kolkata was the Chairperson for the second Panel. The panelists were drawn from all parts of the country.

Research Papers were presented on the second day of the Symposium on the themes Spiritual Tourism: Socio-economic Dimensions, Wealth creation and Entrepreneurship opportunities, Employment generation and skill development, Prospects for the unorganised sector, Soft power enrichment and sharing of cultural and heritage embodiments, Spiritual Tourism & Destination Management, Preserving sanctity and traditional attributes of the destinations, Special interest tours, logistics and other services management, Role of museums and events, Local Community Engagements, Challenges of Spiritual Tourism, Preservation of spiritual heritage manifestations, Commoditisation of symbols of spirituality and loss of authenticity, Ethical issues in promoting spiritual destinations, Standardisation of spiritual tourism offerings, The USPs of Indian Spirituality, Understanding Indian Spirituality, The key elements in Indian mythology, Interpretation of spiritual essence, Unravelling the treasure trove of spiritual texts, Marketing and Promotion of Spiritual Centres, Product development and innovation, Standardisation of hospitality and other services, Niche marketing strategies, ICT and new age technologies in marketing, Designated spiritual tourism destinations and offerings by Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, The Buddhist Trails of India, Traditional wisdom of Himalayas, The success story of Indian Railways

The Ramayana and other circuits. Prof. R.Kannan, Director, Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Management, Madurai Kamaraj University chaired the session The valedictory function was held Prof.K.Tharanikkarasu, Director, SEI & RR, Pondicherry University presided over the function. Sri.Samik Ray, Incredible India Tourist Guide and Editor of the Journal Tourism Theory and Practice and Sri..Lakshmiraman, Manager, Department of Tourism spoke during the occasion.

Ms.Gayatri Panda, Nodal Officer, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India delivered the Keynote Address. Sri.Naveen Balaaji, M.D. Ocean Spray Resort and CEO, Bonjour Bonheur, Puducherry was presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award of DTS.

Mr.Parry and Mr.Vaithi the alumni coordinators of the Symposium were honoured during the valedictory session. The certificates were distributed to the paper presenters. Prof. Malabika Deo, Dean, SOM, Prof.Y.V.Rao, and Dr.Sibi P.S. faculty of DTS graced the occasion.

Cultural Programmes in consonance with the theme showcasing the spiritual and heritage wealth of India was held on the first day of the Symposium.


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