Holi – L.A.’s Festival of Colors

festival-of-colors-web

Saturday, March 16th 2013 marked the first annual L.A. Festival of Colors in Norwalk, California. Well, technically, Norwalk isn’t exactly Los Angeles – but it’s at least in L.A. County, right? At any rate – the event was certainly a festival, and there were, indeed, colors. Caru Das Adikari, Temple Priest of Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah, is to credit (or blame, depending on your persuasion) for the joyous mischief that was the Festival of Colors. So what’s all the colorful excitement about? Holi. A Hindu holiday dating back many hundreds, if not thousands of years. A spring time festival – one entangled in many different stories from different times and traditions- but one embraced by hundreds of millions in India, Nepal, and other places with sizable Hindu populations. Regardless of the particular tradition, Holi has always been a celebration of the triumph of good over evil – and has come to be a celebration of Krishna and Radha, the Beloved Duo at the centerpiece of Vaishnava Hindu worship.

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Modern kirtan celebrities, such as MC Yogi, Deepak Ramapriyan and the Breath of Life Tribe, Larisa Stow and the Shakti Tribe, DJ Drez and the Kirtaniyas riled the crowd with uplifting melodies and beats for one purpose alone – to sing the praises of Divinity. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare – Hare Ram, Hare Ram, Ram Ram, Hare Hare. It is said that one cannot even hear the words, the Holy Names of Krishna (God) once and not be uplifted by their transcendental sound vibration. One thing is for sure – young or old, Hindu or not, those in attendance had their spirits lifted by something. It is doubtful that mere bags of powdered color by themselves can create the type of brotherly love, unity, and spiritual ecstasy that was this years Festival of Colors – Holi – in Norwalk.

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Become One: A Soulful Art Show Party

Between bliss and beauty, there is but One–and at the Become One Art Show, the works of many became just that. On a brisk September evening in Sherman Oaks, CA,  bloomed the vision of artist and curator, Aaron McElligott. McElligott, an actor, poet and overall creative junkie, envisioned an organic art event in which a rich mix of creatives, craftsmen, and performers could express their talent together in living, breathing unity.

Aaron McElligott, curator and organizer of “Become One” speaks beats

Artists offer one-of-a-kind jewelry and hand-made accessories

Live portraits by the hand of painter Stephen Romio

Painters, photographers, film editors, sculptors, leather jewelers, illustrators, jam making mamas,  musicians and fellow spoken word smiths gathered at the intimate venue fusing their creative sparks to burn a community fire free to all. Talents such as Sean Hill, poet and song writer, declared in his poem, “Love In You,” that saying “you’re beautiful” to someone is actually “a fact, not a compliment.” New York native and color field painter Anaya Brunson, shared solid shades on canvas, while bohemian leather making beauty, Angel Annet draped one-of-a-kind pieces on artists and attendees alike.

Virgina Val sculpts a head change for the crowd

An audience sits to view the film future of Become One

Angel Annet models her unique leather necklaces with Aaron and her daughter Galleri

Spontaneous poetry tattoos brought by writer Bernadette Lynn Ignacio

Spoken word poet and pal, Sean Hill smiles and rhymes with Aaron

Cohesion and interactivity weaved connecting threads through the showcase of work. Everything from live gesture portraits by Stephen Romio, to hand-stitched accessories of Omar Castro, and community poetry tattoos, along with tastegasmic bites of sweet, organic preserves by Mami Molly Jam, were among the array things that one could enjoy or admire. Guests also viewed a live screening of the trailer for Become One the film, edited by independent director, Dirk Ellis. The visual center piece of the creative space was occupied by sculptor extraordinaire, Virgina Val, who hand-carved a clay piece for an on looking crowd. But last, and furthest from least, McElligott himself free styled spontaneous poetry for the people, filling the air with riddles, statements and rhymes. In keeping with the growing, organic theme, guests could add their own art with blank posters and colors of the rainbow provided, or, offer their own flesh as canvas for a henna tattoo.

Henna happened at Become One with Joe Fernandez

Amber the Jam Girl serves love in dollops with Mami Jolly Jams

A rustic leather collection by Oscar Castro

Guests get colorful with their contributions to Become One

Become One  indeed became a beautifully put together, soulful art show party made possible with the gift of giving by all those who participated. At the evening’s end, Aaron announced that he plans for the exhibition to evolve into a monthly event. Through the manifestation of his own making, McElligott and many others found their bliss in becoming one. Hope to see you there in the future when finding yours.

To see the full album of photos shot by Aaron McElligott, LIKE! the Become One Art Show page on Facebook!

For further details on future shows or submissions please visit http://www.become1art.com/

Lovestock 2012 at Avalon in Hollywood

In the west coast line-up of new age festivals and gatherings, there’s a new kid on the block. Sunday, September 16th 2012 witnessed the first annual Lovestock Festival at The Avalon in Hollywood. Perhaps witnessed is too passive a word. Birthed? Blossomed? Manifested? At any rate, the event was an historic moment – Kute Blackson’s vision of empowered, loving oneness came to life in one of Hollywood’s premiere venues. The event, which was initially as mysterious as it was timely, was a literal who’s who of the L.A. county’s bhakti, yoga, kirtan, and new age scenes.

Kute Blackson Electrifying the people

The free event was marketed primarily through social media and quickly went viral within the genre. The event was moved to Avalon after over a thousand attendees registered, outgrowing the initial location. With free food, decadent flower-infused cocktails (non-alcoholic), and world renowned DJs, the allure of the event was irresistible to local bhaktas returning to L.A. county from Bhaktifest the week before.

Guests were greeted with a hug and a gift wristband from Think Love LLC which was later synced with all attendees to vibrate simultaneously in ecstasy. Local musicians, artists, healers, and gourmet raw vegan chefs highlighted the early hours of the event while DJ Cheb i Sebbah, Deepak Ramapriyan and the Breath of Life Tribe, and finally DJ Drez (among others) later ignited the fires of love and light, setting the night ablaze with unity.

The event likely saw a few firsts for L.A. county – for starters, a rarely-seen-in-the-west Balinese Monkey Chant; a playful, devotional, and unifying experience. Dwarkoji Sundrani, a 91 year young disciple of Mahatma Gandhi graced the audience with his presence and blessing. Dwarkoji founded the Samanvay Ashram; all proceeds from donations given at the event went to benefit the Ashram.

In the end, participants were asked to silently connect with their eyes and their smiles and offer a blessing to total strangers, to see and accept the divine in each other – truly a remarkable exercise. All left the event with love in their hearts and smiles on their faces. Two things are certain; Kute Blackson knows how to throw a party, and next year, Avalon won’t be big enough for this ever-expanding crowd of love enthusiasts.

Welcome to the Blisstival, Loves

Bliss

n.

1. Extreme happiness; ecstasy.

2. The ecstasy of salvation; spiritual joy.

Phrasal Verb: bliss out Slang To go into a state of ecstasy.

fes·ti·val

n.

1. An occasion for feasting or celebration, especially a day or time of religious significance that recurs at regular intervals.

2. An often regularly recurring program of cultural performances, exhibitions, or competitions: a film festival.

3. Revelry; conviviality.

 

adj.

Of, relating to, or suitable for a feast or festival; festive.

 

bliss·ti·val n.

1. Occasion of celebrating, in pure ecstasy, the love and oneness of all humanity

2. Any and all meetings of yoga/unity/love/new age/hippy/festie/bhakti minds, bodies, hearts, and spirits.

Phrasal Verb:

blisstivaling Slang

Attending said blisstivals.