A Festival that celebrates the use of our voices to sing and express the deepest states of being and devotion, and connects with the transcendental experience practiced in many ancient cultures.

Performance by Carolina Chrem
Performance by Carolina Chrem

This Festival, being held from September 21 – 29th, is to celebrate and explore this tradition where we live, witness, share, and enjoy the sacred songs of many cultures.  From indigenous cultures, traditional Indian songs and mantras, as well as traditional African songs.  There will be three nights of concerts in San Jose with a Mandala Vocal Workshop presented by Carolina Chrem from Argentina.  Then the event will move to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast for 3 more nights of classes, performances, and workshops.  They will finish at Punta Mona Retreat Center with a workshop and concert highlighting Carolina Chrem again.

Edgar Ortiz, from Mandir Yoga Studio in San Jose, is one of the primary organizers and promoters of the Festival, and shared about how this Festival came to be.

Edgar’s father, Javier Ortiz, is considered one of the 1st generation of yoga teachers in Costa Rica, and has been instrumental in developing a growing awareness of yoga for over 30 years.  Edgar’s other family members have also followed in their father’s footsteps, and opened yoga studios of their own in San Jose and Puerto Viejo.  Edgar’s years of living in India really developed his studies in devotional music, and now he has brought that love back to Costa Rica.

Intensive class at Mandir Yoga Studio
Intensive class at Mandir Yoga Studio

This vision of creating a festival to celebrate the Indian and ancient yogic traditions began about 3 years ago.  But Edgar’s experience in organizing yoga events goes back much further than that.  He has been a member of the National Yoga Association for 8 years, and a primary organizer of the annual Yoga Festival which is considered one of the biggest yoga festivals in Central America.  He has years of experience coordinating festivals, and strong connections with the instructors, performers, and other yoga studios.  Edgar says that different festivals have different themes, and now he wants to share his connection with yoga and traditional devotional songs and mantras.

The vision for this Festival is to reach out to others and, through the art of music, share the different cultural traditions of transcendental experience achieved through singing of chants and mantras.  The word ‘mantra’ breaks down into Mana (mind) and Tra (instrument). So mantra translates to ‘instrument for the mind’ – how perfect.  The Festival is reaching out to those who are looking for a transcendental experience, and looking to connect through joy and music.  But Edgar is clear that this Festival will be quite different than other music festivals.  It is intended as a devotional experience.

Maria Laura Castro
Maria Laura Castro

The first week in San Jose will include classes and workshops at 3 different yoga studios, as well as voice workshops with Carolina Chrem from Argentina.  Carolina is recognized world-wide as a vocalist, composer, musician and producer, and has been teaching workshops for more than 15 years.  She composes her own original melodies with deep messages that invite us to awaken our consciousness, and to connect with the sacred inside ourselves, nature and the universe.  The Festival will then continue on to Puerto Viejo to reach out to the Caribbean community and the yoga studios there.  The final event on the schedule will be a special workshop and concert presented by Carolina Chrem closing at Punta Mona Retreat Center.

Edgar admits that this first Festival is also a learning experience on how to improve for the next one.  For him, he would consider this year a success if the Festival reaches and benefits the most number of people, the musicians, the performers, and those attending.  For the performers, he hopes that they appreciate the different venues, and the dynamic energy of the audiences.  For those attending, he hopes they experience a real celebration of the use of the voice as a devotional experience.  Through the use of mantras, music, and workshops, they can experience joy, happiness, and even bliss.  Right now they don’t have any big sponsors to help with the costs of organizing such an event, and they hope to attract some so they achieve more financial stability and support growth for the future.

Kids yoga class
Kids yoga class

As to where Edgar goes next, he hopes this will promote the practice of yoga.   He hopes to see an increase in awareness of music as a devotional experience, and that the practice of devotional music grows.  He hopes to see more events of this kind highlighting groups with this style of music in the future.

And it seems that many of the collaborators, musicians, singers, and other yoga studios have caught the vision.  While Edgar admits that he didn’t have the budget this year to fairly compensate them for all their efforts, everyone has stepped forward to bring this amazing Festival to Costa Rica for the first time.  Hopefully we will see more of these in the future.