A crisp, clean spring breeze blew through our home at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center on the first morning of Shakti Fest. Govindacharya set strong intentions for participants to honor Shakti, the Divine Feminine, during the opening ceremony on the main stage. A meditation was held to help those who were present to dive into the sacred space inside ourselves where compassion, origin and our deepest sweetest love is rooted; in this place participants found solace in the soft embrace of The Mother. We were called to act, speak, and be present from this space through the coming days of Shakti Fest.
After the ceremony, our family of festivalers set foot into the desert feeling full with devotional love to find a plethora of classes, workshops and kirtan that would further help set those intentions free from their hearts and into each other.
|Saul David Raye in Yoga Hall 1|
Image by Shanti Scribe
On the other side of the Shakti spectrum was a lighthearted class lead by Elka Hauk called “YogaSambaDance” in Yoga Hall II sponsored by My Yoga Online. She offered an opportunity to “not just do yoga, but have a multicultural experience.” In the class, Elka introduced practices that originate from her native Brazil such as Caiporeira, Afro Dance and Samba. She shared that, “I feel it’s particularly important for this culture to understand how to truly love themselves and others by coming together through collective singing, dance and expression of a blessed body.” With heart pounding tribal beats and electro dance music, she guided the class to be out of their minds and into their hearts.
|Lydia's Lovin' Food in Vendor VIllage|
Image by Traveling Monk
Lighting up the Main Stage during the day were incredible musical artists such as Sita Devi and Jaya Lakshmi. Gina Sala took the stage to transition the music from bright sunny day into sultry desert sundown with her playful, yet deeply heartfelt mantras and harmonious voice.
|Wah! on stage at Shakti Fest 2013|
Image by Traveling Monk
A spontaneous combustion of devotional love closed our first day of Shakti Fest with an on the spot kirtan jam led by Vijay of the Kirtaniyas, that organically came together on the steps of a major walking path. People passing by, on their way to camp to turn in, stopped in their tracks to sing the holy names with no need for a big stage or light show. The closing set by Amritakripa brought the house to its feet and dancing until 2 a.m.
All who brought their presence came together in a moment of pure bhakti, and joined in on the collective Shakti Fest community lullaby that would send them off into a blessed and blissful rest.