Sep 26, 2009

Forty years on Woodstock still manages to stir us up and allows us to fervently approach the thought of peace on earth as something that could be our reality. The relevance of its essence is timeless. So much has been said about this festival and perhaps will be repeated time and again with every generation that’s exposed to the idea of those three days when fantastical ideals were realised, an enviable evocation of near utopia. The festival set the benchmark not as just an arts exposition but the nurturing of a collective consciousness which voices concern for anything that threatens mankind’s underlying spirit of harmony.

Though Woodstock is remembered through various perceptions, from a hippie fiesta to a drug binge, a peace congregation to a rock & roll festival, none could ignore its overriding sentiment and ideology. It’s true that the festival was one of its kinds and is best not replicated – we have seen the disaster that came of the Woodstock attempted in the Nineties. In replicating an emblematic festival as Woodstock, one must realise that one can’t possibly replicate a cause, a feeling, or the influences of a different generation altogether. Issues change, responses change and pop culture constantly undergoes surgery, and this is where adaptation is key. And I see how Woodstock’s virtues have been emulated through the decades, more in its principle.

The Vietnam war was the concern of that generation, while today global warming is an issue. One of today’s best music festivals, Bonnaroo, is oft called Greenaroo. It champions the green revolution from the organic food vendors from Vermont to the Go Green campaigning, and the audience is subconsciously supporting a cause relevant to its time. Even in 2008, with musicians stepping up and defacing Bush in concert, that’s where one sees a streak of Woodstock. Then it was the war in Vietnam, this time the concern was the war in Iraq. A great example to take from, would be that of Martin Luther King, Jr. When King led the Civil Rights movement in the States he applied Gandhi’s teachings to the challenges that lay before his country. Gandhi’s Quit India, Non-Cooperative, civil disobedient movement was a prototype for King, where King’s ‘We Shall Overcome’ translated to Gandhi’s ‘Hum Honge Kamyaab.’

Today it’s not each country to her own. We are facing common problems from global warming to the economic meltdown, terrorism to healthcare. The Woodstock consciousness allows us to address these issues by leaving our differences behind us. Such a rooted ideology allows us to dissolve boundaries and approach our issues constructively and collectively. It purports the idea of harmony. We are no more strangers when we are affected by the same issues, and in times like these we need to come together and forget the petty differences we build up. Such festivals have the power to send normal people back with joy and allow them to understand that they have a larger role to play in life. The true essence of Woodstock remains in spreading a social and spiritual consciousness amongst people while reminding them of the ultimate strength of mankind in peace and understanding. So let’s not look to another Woodstock but simply look to imbibe its ideals and apply them appropriately to the need of the hour.


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