The world’s largest torch, a 6-metre tall replica of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics torch, was unveiled on April 13 by Ashrita and Akio Haruhara, designer of the original torch. Following his two Celebrations records, Ashrita holds 184 current Guinness World Records, including the official record for “the most records held at the same time by an individual”.
Stunned by the sheer size of the lit torch, Ashrita dedicated the new record to Sri Chinmoy, whose “50th anniversary of starting all our sports and cultural activities including the Peace Run we are celebrating today.” Akio exclaimed, “Today is one of the happiest days of my life!” Salil, as Director of the Peace Run, presented Akio Haruhara with the Torch Bearer Award during the presentation ceremony.
The flaming torch has a height of 6 metres (20 feet) and a base of 1.5 metres (5 feet). The total height of the torch monument is 7.5 metres (25 feet). The mega torch is 11 times the size of the Olympic torch used in the 1998 Winter Olympic games to carry the flame from Athens to Nagano in Japan, and weighs 1200 kg. Ashrita and a team of 20 including some Aucklanders constructed the torch of aluminium and steel within three weeks.
On 10 April, more than 50 United Nations ambassadors, diplomats and Olympians joined with Ashrita and many Peace Run runners to set a new Guinness World Record by reading a poem in the most languages ever—206! Aided by other Centre members, Ashrita has broken this record on two previous occasions, but this far surpasses the prevous record of 146 (set in 2010). This time, the recitation was Sri Chinmoy’s Poem “O Dreamers of Peace”.
The record was set during the launch of the Peace Run at the Dag Hammarsköld Plaza, across from the UN Headquarters in Manhattan. It was one of Ashrita’s two records at Celebrations, in honour of the Golden Jubilee of Sri Chinmoy’s arrival in America.
Ashrita had been organising the world record for months. “The greatest challenges are in finding translators for languages which are spoken only by a few thousand people. For example, Bislama is only spoken by 6200 people in Vanuatu and New Caledonia,” he said. “The record set today is for the Guinness world record for “A Poem / Literary Passage Recited in the Most Languages.”
The English version of the Guinness Record Poem is:
“O dreamers of peace, come.
Let us walk together.
O lovers of peace, come.
Let us run together.
O servers of peace, come.
Let us grow together.”