Festivals, Culture, and Unified Joy
by Bree Allen
Communities around the globe honor music, art, historical holidays, dance, and culture itself by throwing festivals that bring people together in mutual celebration. Each festival has a flavor of its own, yet a feeling of collective happiness is achieved in each one. If you haven’t had the chance to attend a festival, these are some suggestions to get you started; let the journey begin!
Inti Raymi Festival in Peru
Taking a blast to the past for the appreciation ancient culture is a great way to learn history through experience. This “Festival of the Sun” has roots in the old Inca Empire during the 13th century and still takes place amid the Winter Solstice to honor the Sun God, Inti. The sun is farthest away from the earth during this time and the days are shorter, so the intention of the ceremony is to honor Inti and pray for his return to avoid famine.
Even though the Inca Empire no longer exists, the ritual is recreated at the city’s ruins in Cusco each year on the 24th of June. The costumes are colorful, the food is traditional and delicious, plus the ceremony is a spectacle in itself. If experiencing historical culture interests you, I highly encourage checking this one out.
Holi in India
Color is a common theme of summer around the globe, and it’s exclusively celebrated in Northern India during Holi. Also known as the “Festival of Colour”, this event is perfect for experiencing color on a whole new level. Instead of just seeing color, the entire crowd at the festival throws non-toxic dyed powder at each other in sheer happiness and celebration. Compared to Inti Raymi, Holi is a more interactive festival that will bring out your wild side. The music, color immersion, and savory Indian food will lift your spirits high!
Worldwide Music Festivals
It can be argued that all festivals have culture woven into the seams. Some put holidays or ancient traditions in the spotlight, but it’s also intriguing to notice the role that the audience plays. A distinguished community is formed among the attendees, which creates identifiable characteristics. This is especially common in music festivals around the world. While many incorporate a wide variety of genres, others are exclusive to one main type of music and a crowd culture is created.
For example, electronic music festivals attract people who wear neon costumes and love heavy bass and crazy light shows. These events also interest those who practice flow arts; where dancing movements are integrated with a props like hula hoops, light-up gloves, and poi. On the other hand, country music festivals attract crowds who love swing dancing, cowboy boots, flannels, and endless beer. If you’re a music lover, there’s a festival out there that fits your style. A great resource to check out is Fest 300, which has in-depth reviews and information on both music and cultural festivals.
Laura Dance Festival
Music festivals involve dance, but it’s not the center of entertainment in comparison to the Laura Dance Festival in Cape York, Australia. This is a three day celebration that honors Aboriginal culture through dance ceremonies, song, and various performances. To community members this is a special time to learn about their ancestry, meet new people, and share family histories among 20 different tribes. Outside attendees are also welcome to increase understanding of Aboriginal culture. If experiencing cultural storytelling through dance and art appeals to you, this is something you may want to consider attending. It’s a biannual event, so the next chance to go is June of 2017.
The Common Theme
Festivals are like people; each one is unique in its own special way and small differences set them apart from each other. However, just like all humans have a heart, all festivals also share a common theme: collective ecstasy. This is a term from sociology that Barbara Ehrenreich outlines in her book Dancing in the Streets.
I read this book in college and it really spoke to me because of my interest in festivals and different cultural gatherings. You can think of collective ecstasy as shared happiness or joy that’s felt by a large group of people during any sort of gathering. It’s something you feel in the air and can sense from the people around you; truly a magical experience. Think about the feeling you get when you sing Happy Birthday to a good friend or family member, well that’s it!
If you want to experience collective ecstasy on a larger scale, festivals are a great way to do so since there are thousands of events that will fit anybody’s interest. If culture is your thing, the Laura Dance Festival or Festival of the Sun might be perfect for you. If dancing, bass, and lights are your forte, then an electronic music festival could be the bread to your butter. Either way, enjoy the adventures and experiences ahead of you!