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Ragasthan – A Desert Raga

Just like every teenager, I also have a long account of stupid things I have done. There used to be a time when I aspired to be a part of some rock band. Along with a few of my friends, I used to try and “rehearse” for our performances. The life of a rock star really fascinated me. I used to wonder how it would feel to travel from one city to another, living on wheels.  But with age, I realised that I wasn’t cut out for this. So to spare the world, I didn’t pursue it as a profession and by god’s grace, the only ones tortured were my close friends and family.

Years passed, and this just became a funny story to recall now and then. Then one fine day one of my “ex-band member” told me about Ragasthan festival and asked me to come along with her. At first I thought it was a typo. After digging more info, I got to know how it was one of its own kind music festival. The festival’s name actually has a thought behind it. It is made by amalgamation of two words actually. Raga, as in a musical raga, + sthan, the Sanskrit word for “heart”.

I have been to several musical festivals. The electric energy of such an event is absolutely amazing to experience. Usually these kinds of festivals take place either at beach blowouts or in bouncer-secured coliseums. But when I heard about this festival, that was breaking new ground to let you devour the new and emerging talent in world of music; that also acts as a gateway to camp under the stars, right at the sight of festival venue, along with the performers with a taste of adventure, I knew I had to be there.

Ragasthan – A Desert Raga-1 I was incredibly excited on my way to the location. The stretch of white desert sand on both sides and a thin road, gave a sense that I was travelling to a no man’s land. But as I approached my destination I saw an enormous setup. Four stages, a festival village, pitch-tent campsite, a nomad market, right in the middle of nowhere. Spread across the towering dunes of inner Thar, what appears just as a desolate and fruitless stretch of land, came alive when 2,100 festival-goers descended on the fort town. The deserts typically witness many foreigners who travel around the area on camels and jeeps, but during these three days, this place was transformed into a classic Rajasthani hamlet brimming with lights and colours. As far as accommodation was concerned, there was a choice. Glamping fans, for instance, could opt for one of the luxury “Royal Swiss” tents (that came with a shower and bedding to boot); while the option of The Bring Your Own Tent (BYOT) was also available. So I chose the Swiss tents because of the comforts, which indeed fulfilled the expectations. Bands encompassing several genres of music performed at one of the three stages – Morio Main Stage, Ammara Electronic Stage, and Olun World Stage.

Ragasthan – A Desert Raga-2 Music by artists like Blakc, Half Step Down, Them Clones and others reverberated in the air and blended with the singing sands, aiding revellers to sway to the tunes with the setting sun as the backdrop. We were also handed a ‘Ragasthan’ guidebook, a pocket able reference book about the festival that also had a detailed map of the festival venue and location of the various activities, which was quite helpful. Looking around, I saw people camping among like-minded festival junkies, dune-gazing, catching film screenings and jamming around slowly burning bonfire – simple joys that the fest provided. And after the rich music and film experience, one could even try a hand at adventure activities like paintball, sky gazing workshops, karaoke, volleyball, yoga sessions and All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) rides. One of the significant things about this festival was its innovation in terms of being eco-friendly. The organisers had banned bottled water and water coolers were liberally distributed throughout the festival site as they didn’t want plastic bottles strewn around the desert. So they gave away flasks to all those attending Ragasthan. I mean which event has ever done that? Initially what started as a music festival, where people with their own group of friends, from diverse areas came together and progressed to be a solace dwelling, so much so that no one wanted to go back to their monotonous life.
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