Bhakti Fest, the largest kirtan and yoga festival in the country, was created from the unique vision of Sridhar Silberfein, one of the producers of the Woodstock Festival in 1969. That year, Sridhar brought in the great guru, Swami Satchidananda to add a spiritual component to Woodstock. When he stood on stage with the guru, in front of the massive crowd, chanting the names of god, the seed was planted. Forty years later, in 2009, Sridhar hosted the first Bhaki Fest at Joshua Retreat Center. His dream was to create a spiritual Woodstock, with thousands of people singing kirtan in a beautiful setting, feeling the bhakti, the love of devotion. And his dream has succeeded, wildly.
This year, the 7th Annual Bhakti Fest is September 9-14, with another world-class line-up of musicians and yoga instructors. Two stages are devoted to music performances, including singer/songwriter Trevor Hall, Grammy nominee Krisha Das, Jai Uttal and hip-hop artist MC Yogi. There are twelve hours of daily yoga classes in four different venues, taught by gifted instructors including Saul David Raye, Sianna Sherman, Shiva Rea, and Tim Miller. The festival offers classes with Indian spiritual leaders on breathwork and Ayurveda. And the festival features an exclusive interview with Sridhar and the spiritual icon, Ram Dass.
As part of the goal of creating a loving, conscious community, there are no drugs, alcohol or smoking allowed at Bhakti Fest and all the food is vegetarian. Sridhar says it’s all about diving deeper into your spiritual path, your sadhana. The Bhakti Festival movement, he says, was born in the way of service, of seva. His hope is that the festival will help people change their lives, to go toward better ways of living.
Bhakti Fest offers a “veterans for yoga” free entry program to help make the festival more accessible to those suffering PTSD. There are discounts for students, seniors and local residents. And for families, there is a designated Conscious Kids Land, with kid-friendly music, yoga and enlightened play. This year there will also be a tent for teenaged girls, with elder spiritual women as mentors. A healing sanctuary offers massage and energy work, and a marketplace is thrumming with eco-friendly, sustainable vendors, musical instruments and CD’s.
Sridhar has a long history of following his sadhana, his spiritual path, from standing on the stage with Satchidananda at Woodstock in 1969 to founding Bhakti Fest in 2009. For over forty years, Sridhar has been a spiritual trail-blazer, sharing the transformative power of divine love.