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New Agey events like the Shantippi, Boombamela, Beresheet and Adama festivals have become known for their communal - almost tribal - ambiance.
When you enter their sites, you leave the everyday cares and woes behind you. Once you set up your tent and begin to explore the festival areas you find yourself merging with the energies of the music stages, the colors and smells of the always-popular food and bazaar sections, and the patently spiritual vibes of the alternative healing workshops. You are - willingly - sucked into a multicolored, multisensorial break from everyday reality.
One thing all organizers of alternative festivals - such as this Pessah's Boombamela on the Nitzanim Beach and Adama on the Kinneret - share is a sense of a tribal/extended family, or "jama'a," intent.
All have spent backpacking time in India, and part of their initial motivation was to recreate that experience. Although the festivals' consumer hinterland has changed over the years - you see lots of "respectable" types alongside the teenagers and twentysomethings - the extended-family vibes are still there. While it's easy to distinguish the older, first-time crowd from the younger, seasoned festivalgoers, you still find over-50 patrons engaging in behavior they might not ordinarily consider "acceptable" - only natural, considering Pessah is the festival of freedom.
Although the Boombamela management team isn't quite targeting every market sector, the upcoming ninth annual gathering appears to have extended its consumer appeal, presumably in the hope of attracting new followers.
Between April 5 and 7 the Boombamela site on Nitzanim Beach, north of Ashkelon, will offer an impressive array of entertainment and other gainful activities. Alongside emerging rock groups, you will find some of the more established local acts, such as Mosh Ben-Ari and Synergia, as well as a whole host of reggae artists, including the likes of Gil Rasta and Tabasco. As always, the musical fare is available almost around the clock - a full 18 hours out of every 24 over the three days. And there are all the usual workshops and varied holistic endeavors too.
This year's site, for instance, includes a World of Pirates and Gypsies which extols the liberating spirit of a life on the high seas in search of fortune. The festival blurb claims that "the [site] team will take you on a search for a lost treasure. Your voyage to freedom begins at Nitzanim Beach."
That's quite an offer, although I wouldn't advise entertaining thoughts of being able to afford a new car after your experience; the "treasure" is, no doubt, of a more ethereal quality.
More spiritual sustenance will be on hand at the Ashram section, where you can explore the therapeutic qualities of an inward quest while the waves lap around you. The festival Web site (www.boombamela.co.il) describes this year's ashram as "the most varied, deepest and purest" ever, offering "yoga to vispana, tantra to sacred dances, a taste of the full spectrum of spiritual possibilities."
If you're in need of a giggle, the Rascals ("Shovavim") section should be just the ticket. The madcap fare there includes women engaging in jelly fights while men try sesame sumo bouts, as well as non-stop "borekas" movie screenings and a performance by the singing-joking Hashovavim troupe. Meanwhile, the more sporty types should dig the Xtreme section, which offers skateboard and roller skate courses, abseiling and even a 76-meter bungee jump. Add the Flix movie area, circus entertainment, karaoke, junior activities and the usual chill-out chai shops, and you end up with a pretty comprehensive getaway package.
Space is also reserved for the observant, who can camp out in the Prayer and Love compound.
Family tickets are NIS 600; for young families with children up to age 12, tickets are NIS 250. For more information, go to www.boombamela.co.il, or call the information center on (054) 400-2010.
THE ADAMA FESTIVAL on the Kinneret, also running next Thursday through Saturday (April 5-7), places even more emphasis on New Agey spiritualism. This year, it will even feature a medium giving a public seance. That's alongside the regular self-consciousness, couple communication and other self-improvement workshops, chidren's activities (some with "babysitter" supervision), healing therapies, ethnic music and more. Tickets are NIS 200 for the duration (NIS 100 for soldiers; free for those 65 and over). Details at www.adama.ws