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Boomba-Mela in Israel


I was last week in an India-oriented Israeli festival called 'Boomba-Mela.'' The name derives from Kumbh-Mela+Boom-Bolay (Shiva). Some 30,000 people gathered on a Mediterranean beach away from the city for four-days, among them ganjeris, charasis, musicians, painters, writers, poets, other artists and people from all walks of life. Many of them kind of hippies of 60s  --youngsters, their bodies tattooed, pierced and naked limbs painted in beautiful colors. Amid soft sounds of sea waves, heavy midnight music blurred out to the tune of  'Om Namah Shivayah,' 'Om Jai Jagdish Hareh' and 'Krishna Krishna.'

Many of them were gyrating in ultimate bliss, their eyes closed and hands trying to reach the sky while bodies performing a frenzied Michael Jackson on a 'raghupati raghav raja ram.' I was there with two friends, an Italian guy and a Spanish girl and both were amazed at the midnight appeal India could hold on an otherwise sleepy beach. As the midnight breeze pierced through our bodies, I too had my moment of ecstasy as one of singers started singing on the microphone a garhwali song in praise of Shiva and Parvati living in the Himalayas. The guy had lived in Rishikesh, Uttarkashi and Gangotri for long.  It was an amazing feeling in a firangi land. Can not be described in words. India could be seen in all its hues (as Israelis perceive it). There were Yoga demonstrations, meditation classes, Hare Krishna camp at one corner, massage therapies and reiki workshops, tai chi sessions, and Buddhist lectures.

There were Israelis, many women in sarees or kurtas and men in Indian dhoti-kurtas. There were others -- bald, burgundy-robed monks strolling the dusty beach and there were guys meditating in lotus position of Buddhist monks, heads shaven and wrapped in maroon robes. And there were these girls in nude, painting nude bodies of young enthusiasts. One of them painting the head of an elephant on the belly of a guy. All done beautifully and artistically. And there were teenage boys and girls getting their toungs, lips, noses and other parts of bodies pierced. All a ''spiritually enhancing'' experience for some of them, and liberating experience for others, desperate to escape the cycle of violence that has gripped this land. There were groups and groups of young boys and girls, holding hands, feeling each other and singing midnight songs in unison -- nocturnal songs of immense nostalgia. Towards the morning they would huddle together in couples or groups and take a sleep for few hours. Next morning started with usual music, dance, meditation, yoga and what not! I talked to many of them and found that all were seeking one thing --- ''freedom.'' From what ??

Author:  Harsh Dobhal,
City: Jerusalem
State: Israel
Phone: 00972-5874874

The above article recently appeared in Indian Express and Hindustan Times.

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