Music is force powerful enough to calm a baby, soothe a wild beast, or compel the two to dance with each other. Be overcome by this GrouponLive deal to Bhakti Fest at Joshua Tree Retreat Center. For $199, you get a four-day adult festival pass, starting Thursday, September 6, at 7 a.m. and running through Sunday, September 9 (up to a $400 value, including fees). Doors open at 7 a.m.
A festival of love and limberness, Bhakti Fest invites one and all to four days of yoga demonstrations and thought-provoking workshops, soundtracked by the meditative mantras of spiritually grounded musicians. Throughout the weekend, the air will thrum with the sounds of kirtan, an Indian folk-music tradition of call-and-response chanting rich with intoxicating rhythms and melodies that build verse by verse. Performers from across the country add drums, harmonium, guitar, and strings to the waves of vocal sound, inducing an atmosphere ripe for spiritual awakening and making any birds overhead float to the ground in a blissful trance.
The deep, soulful voice of Krishna Das headlines the lineup of spiritual musicians. Originally from New York, Das has toured the globe with music that interweaves feverish cadences with traditional and modern instrumentation. The former rock n' roller explains the atavistic appeal of chanting by saying that it "just hits you and you want to be a part of it . . . you don't have to know what it means." Some 50 other kirtan artists join him, including veteran sacred music composer Jai Uttal and the vibrant Donna De Lory, whose electronic rhythms blend with lyrics in both English and Sanskrit.
While the music fills the air, minds and bodies come together in 24 yoga classes and workshops on topics including spiritualism, nutrition, and eco-activism. A vendor village, meanwhile, attracts eco-friendly artisans purveying clothing, jewelry, and vegetarian and vegan cuisine.