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Thursday, September 16, 2010

supreme bhaktification

it's been four days since i got back from bhakti fest, and today's probably the first day since my four-day immersion in supreme bhaktification in the california high desert that i've felt like my usual self again.

honestly, by the time i left the joshua tree retreat center late sunday night (which was technically early monday morning), i was truly spent. i couldn't think straight. i could barely walk straight. and anything i said probably wouldn't have made sense to anyone. including myself.

luckily, the fatigue is finally gone, but the memories still linger...

the sights...

~ the smiling faces, familiar and otherwise, as they made their way to and from the kirtan stages, the yoga venues, and the vendor booths
~ the musicians who were constantly scurrying around with their instruments to get to their scheduled gigs on stage and in the classrooms
~ the LA kirtan junkies who took turns on and off the same blanket in front of the main stage
~ the krishna devotees who seemed to be everywhere
~ the burners who had relocated their campsites from the desert in nevada to the desert in california and continued to rekindle their burning man experience
~ the yoga students practicing both indoors and outdoors in classes led by shiva rea, saul david raye, annie carpenter, joan white, krishna kaur, kristin olson, and other awesome yoga teachers
~ the assortment of merchandise for sale at the vendor booths -- clothing, accessories, books, CDs, sacred images, musical instruments, and anything else one could ever need or want
~ the bhakti babies who were carried around and doted on by their proud new parents
~ the hoop dancer who casually stripped down to her birthday suit, skipped around the perimeter of the main stage, then as if nothing had happened, put her clothes back on
~ the dark moonless sky while walking back to the campground after the last headliner for the night had left the stage
~ the bright sun rising over the desert after pulling a kirtan all-nighter

the sounds...

~ the kirtan superstars -- dave stringer, jai uttal, krishna das, deva premal and miten, david newman, wah!, donna de lory, girish, bhagavan das, shyamdas
~ the rising stars -- brenda mcmorrow, prema hari, larisa stow and the shakti tribe, suzanne sterling, gaura vani, shantala, sat jot singh, simrit kaur, steve ross, mike cohen, geoffrey gordon, steve gold, wynne paris, mukti, arjun baba, karnamrita dasi, and chaytanya
~ lesser-knowns (at least to me) -- anjula, jagadeesh, yvette, yofiyah, babukishan das, sruti ram and ishwari, fantuzzi, and gina sala
~ the high-energy performers who had us dancing ecstatically from their first chant to their last -- the mayapuris, sean johnson and the wild lotus band, MC yogi, the kirtan rabbi, and c.c. white
~ the LA locals whom we've come to know and love -- govindas and radha, terra gold, zat baraka, masood ali khan, joey lugassy, chris morro, cooper madison, marla leigh, momo loudiyi, the breath of life tribe, the kirtaniyas, tony khalife, daniel stewart, and the temple bhajan band
~ all the backup musicians who made the kirtan wallahs sound even more amazing -- patrick richey, matthew hufschmidt, josh brill, david watts, craig kohland, denise kaufman, manose, ben leinbach, david schommer, mark gorman, matt pszonak, and many, many more
~ the spontaneous drum circles that popped up in the campground, on the cafeteria steps, and any place where more than two yogis with percussion instruments came together
~ the late-night snoring from nearby tents that lulled me to sleep and the early morning conversations that served as my wake-up call

the tastes...

~ the cool nectar of young coconuts from krishna's kitchen
~ the warm bowls of kicharee from radha govindas
~ the eclectic assortment of toppings -- yams, strawberries, broccoli, fried egg -- on the pizzas by pie for the people
~ the wheat-free, gluten-free, and/or dairy-free scones and cookies at the island sol bakery
~ the i-can't-believe-it's-actually-vegan mac n' cheese and reuben sandwiches at palm greens cafe
~ the invigorating bite of chilled reed's ginger brew
~ the decadent pleasure of frozen dark chocolate coconut bliss bars

the smells...

~ the comforting aroma of a cup of freshly-brewed chai tea first thing in the morning
~ the fragrance of burning incense and sage sticks
~ the distinctive scent of sweaty bodies writhing to the music
~ the odors wafting from the portapotties scattered around the grounds (i know, TMI...)

the feelings...

~ the joy of being able to take yoga classes with norcal teachers debbie steingesser, dana flynn, and especially with MC yogi and his wife amanda as we practiced to cuts from his "elephant power" CD... even learning a flash mob vinyasa sequence to "ganesh is fresh". so fun!
~ the intense heat during the day and the frigid cold at night
~ the cool air-conditioned comfort of the sanctuary
~ the desert dust that found its way into everything -- between my toes, in my hair, on my blanket, inside my tent
~ the quick cold showers in the campground and the one leisurely warm shower in a friend's bathroom
~ the soft luxuriousness of the couch as i power-napped in the artist hospitality suite, thanks to my connections with a certain editor of an LA yoga magazine :)
~ the extreme gratitude i'd like to express to all the event producers, coordinators, and volunteers who made bhakti fest 2010 a rousing success

in short, will i return for bhakti fest 2011? you bet i will, even if it means my having to chant yet another iteration of the maha mantra!

here's one more round, just for good measure:

hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare... hari bol!

5 Comments:

Anonymous Nicky said...

Its really a supreme bhaktification dude, really I like it, thanks for sharing with us.

3:31 AM  
Blogger Brianna said...

Nice! Yeah, it was pretty incredible. I think Bhakti Fest is here to stay. Jai Ma!

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Bagus Satya said...

Thanks 4 sharing. I can figure out the immersion in bhaktification :)

8:27 PM  
Blogger marketing said...

What is Bhakti fest? I seriously have never heard of it and surprisingly interested in learning what is all about.

3:50 PM  
Blogger joni said...

hi marketing --

bhakti fest was a four-day kirtan+yoga festival in joshua tree, CA. there were so many kirtan artists there -- from kirtan celebs such as krishna das, jai uttal, deva premal, dave stringer to lesser-known musicians -- that the chanting went on all day and all night! there were also yoga classes held throughout the day with well-known teachers from LA, SF, and palm springs.

this was the second year bhakti fest was held, and plans are already in the works for bhakti fest 2011!

here's the festival website: www.bhaktifest.com

12:40 AM  

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