History: Free Spirit Festival 2000
DHARAMSHALA, India, 25 November 2000
On 25 November 2000, the first Free Spirit Festival commenced. The festival was opened from late morning at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, Mcleod Ganj, with exhibitions of various art forms from a few Tibetans.
Five photographers, which included three Tibetans, exhibited their photography. Moonpeak Pictures was kind enough to print all the photos for free.
Different painting styles from five painters and Lobsang Dhonyou's sculptures were also exhibited.
Other pieces of art collections, information on the situation of Tibet, and environmental awareness centres were available in different stalls. A number of eating points served traditional food.
A character from the Tibetan Opera, Ngonpa, danced to the music "Shakedown Street" by The Grateful Dead was presented by Brian from America. Kham Tehor's Lion Dance was the day's biggest attraction, which was partly danced to some house techno music for fun and experiment.
As the day drew to dusk, monks from Diptsechok Ling Monastery consecrated the stage for the evening's show. Firecrackers illuminated the evening sky, which was followed by the logo of the festival "Free Spirit" lit up in red and blue and raised onto the stage.
Thangtong Lhugar Performing Arts presented the first show of the night with a traditional Tibetan song and the famous Dranyen Shabdro, a quick tap-dance to the Tibetan guitar. Two artistes of the group travelled to Mcleod Ganj all the way from Dehra Dun.
A trio of Ashok (the Dharamshala Ustad Zakir), Hans and Hania played some classical Indian ragas. Mandolin played by two Amdo boys followed the trio.
Next came a Native American chant from France with her Jambay; many thought she was the talent of the night, and Brian with his smaller Jambay teamed up with France.
Ult Mundane blew the night sky with his Dij. He came all the way from Varanasi for the show! The promoter of the festival, Lobsang Wangyal, came next to dance to the music "Think" by Aretha Franklin. That was an appetizer for the crowd to shake their bodies.
Flying Saucers, or should we say the band mixed of Los Lobo, The Eagles, Dire Straits and Pink Floyd... made the air reverberate with some classic numbers.
Born Refugee, in their second show ever (their debut was the day before), presented both a patriotic and a love song.
JJI Exile Brothers, a band of three brothers, wound up the evening concert with their Tibetan version of heavy metal stuff.
The show was not over yet. France got up to start her unfinished attempt to make everybody shake their bodies. The rest of the artistes joined her and the real jam started.
Today, as the Tibetans face the threat of losing their identity in their own land, the promoter, Lobsang Wangyal, showed his intentions to bring over a dozen Native Americans to share ideas about how to confront threats when the natives become minority in their own land.
Tibetan prophecy: "When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered around the world and the Dharma will go to the land of the red man."
Hopi Indian prophecy: "When the iron eagle flies, the red-robed people who have lost their land will appear, and the two brothers from across the great ocean will be reunited."