By The Shanti Scribe
September 6-9, 2012 - Joshua Tree, CA: How should I start off with a first entry in my Blog area...hhhmmm...why not with the details of the biggest Yoga/Kirtan festival on the West Coast!
I had the pleasure of first attending the Bhaktifest last September in 2011. I had just finished working on a Yoga DVD titled, "Yoga Music Union" for Julie Jackson, and through the Yogis involved in the project, I heard about the upcoming festival. It sounded like a fun event, so I got my ticket and headed off to Joshua Tree, California to attend. Since I had to return home every night, then return back in the morning and only attending late Thursday and most of Friday and Saturday, I couldn’t really enjoy the whole experience. I wanted this year to be the real deal. All 4 days complete and also to be able to camp in the beautiful Joshua Tree desert!
My highlights from the year before where hearing some of the most beautiful Kirtan music ever! I was totally new to this form of devotional music and I just sat down in the main stage area and soaked it in. I totally fell in love with artists like, Donna De Lory, Larisa Stow & Shakti Tribe, C.C. White, Deepak & the Breath of Life Tribe and the dreamlike sounds of Deva Premal & Miten with Manose. I was just checking my cell phone and still have a couple of cell phone pictures from last year's event on it. Here they are.
So this year, I wanted the experience to last longer. I arrived early Thursday morning to setup in the camping area.
I pass through the food vendors, who are preparing up some delicious, healthy vegetarian, vegan and even raw food dishes for the crowds to enjoy. I have to remember to come back after listening to some of the Kirtans to get me some yummy Indian food being prepared at the Krishna Kitchen, or maybe a refreshing smoothie from one of the many different vendors…so many great delicacies and choices at the "food court". ;-)
Next to the "food court" is the Hanuman Stage for some more Kirtans and also the area for the electronica acts late in the evening and early morning hours. Bhakti Ravers would love! Product vendors line the stage, like a Moroccan trading post from ancient times, you find most anything here to remember the event. From clothes, jewelry, mandalas, incense, crystals, music, instruments, yoga studio supplies....you name it.
I head over to the main stage to get my spot on the grounds. I want to attend the opening Puja, a blessing for the start of the event. It’s by a huge fire-pit in the center of the concert area. I decide this is the place, where I will sit for the Kirtans. I've learned that Kirtan singing is not a performance; it is a sacred worship of the Divine. So I try to remember that this is not my youth and I'm not attending the US Festival in '82 with Van Halen about to take stage. People in attendance, didn’t clap after each song, but stayed in the silence and reflected.
I hear Ena Vie, Prajna Vieira (wearing a beautiful long white dress from Sri Lalita Clothing...plug, plug) and Ben Leinbach, the uplifting Sri Kirtan, awesome duo Jaya Lakshmi & Ananda, and the wonderful Marti Walker.