Friday, August 14, 2009

Snehayatra : India's Woodstock

Atomic Forest Malavli  
Atomic Forest at Snehayatra Youth Festival in Malavli, India

Celebrating the Indian version of
Woodstock at 40....

As far away as India, the after-effects of Woodstock were evident,
thanks mainly
to the later film of the concert, and while it was an
eye-opener for its Widescreen, Split-screen, Psychedelic
format
for most viewers, for many Indians stuck in the Bollywood
mindset it came off as a paean to the Drug Culture that they felt was
invading their youth. Even as Indians acknowledged their
place in the
world as the 'Gurus' to the less-enlightened in
Western societies.
The brief but memorable onscreen moments
of Swami Satchidananda
who called music ''the celestial sound
that controls the whole
universe
" gave the whole event a sort
of blessing and validation to
many Indians who were thenceforth
more benign in their gaze at all
the crazy Hippie-types
.

Well, it all affected my friends and myself as well, since I was a budding
guitarist
playing Blues-Rock around Pune. I also ran a screen-
printing business on the side at the time the Woodstock film came
about,
and it was in the studio pictured below that we conjured up
the various schemes to raise money for our party lifestyle.
Gasper Visits VC 897 Synagogue Street  
Fueled by the vibes from the whole Woodstock thing, we obtained
the blessing and approval of
a local Catholic Priest, Father De Leury,
a Belgian by origin. He was the only one who shared our vision of

re-creating
Woodstock in India, calling it 'Snehayatra' ( translated
from Hindi, Sneh=Love, Yatra=Journey ). Volunteers and Bands from
all over the country put their heads and hands and hearts
together and
organized Food supplies, dug sanitation ditches, ran
fund drives, smoked,
pleaded with sponsors, drank, partied and acquired generous donations
.
Weeks of careful planning to make sure the omissions of the original
Woodstock would not occur
resulted in a memorable event that we were
all plain crazy about. With good reason, we were making history in India !


My band which went by the name of 'Invention of Mothers' was the
opening act on the first night since we had to go play a contract
gig
later that night....a 4-hour journey by train from beautiful Malavli,
a dream site with lush greenery, ancient historic caves, waterfalls and
hills. Not to mention area Guest Houses which the organizers booked
way in advance. So us Bands and our fans were all well-accommodated,
acclimated, fed and bathed and secure to smooze with countless Groupies.

The music was varied and wild
and a mind-boggling time was had by all.
Just one sad
note to it all- IMHO- no visible documentation of it all except
for a few B/W
pics that I saved on Flickr. as hazy memories of something
that took place about 38 years ago.


But....... nothing will ever come close to what happened 40 years ago
that weekend in August in Upstate New York. Nothing.......

Woodstock's three days of Peace, Love and (mostly) free Music
left an indelible mark on generations of Music lovers and thinkers from
all walks of life. Though there was massive alcohol and
drug usage,
the overall effects of the festival
left a sense of harmony and fellowship
that many agree marked
the beginning for all the 'We Are The World',
Band-Aid' 'Farm-Aid' and 'Jazz Yatra' sensibilities. To bring together
as one without
prejudice, hatred and selfishness, for the greater good
of the masses - even if for a few moments
- is now the standard that all
Concert and Charity Events
promoters should aspire to. Only some do.

So.....enjoy these two clips from CNN as they get into Woodstock
weekend mode.....spread some love, and please share this piece
of Indian history
wherever you can.
video


video

Dedicated to the late Hugh Furtado a.k.a. Jax Carlos,
and his cohorts without whose incessant
ramblings and
ravings this would never have happened.

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