Burning Festival is not where people are burned; instead, it is a mix of art and communities that attracts thousands of people annually.
When it comes to celebration, several countries have their unique cultures, beliefs, and traditions. Be it the celebration of Christmas, La Tomatina, or underwater music festival: each festival comes with a message that is associated with their religion.
Have you noticed anything common when people celebrate festivals? There’s always lights, decoration, and food. Altogether these things make an event successful. Throughout the year, several bizarre festivals are celebrated all over the world.
Celebrating kite festival, easter, or Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is common. But have you ever heard about the Burning Man festival which is held annually in the western United States at Black Rock City? Let us read about this strange festival that was first celebrated in 1986.
Dedicated to self-expression and consumerism, the festival culminates with the burning of a large wooden sculpture of a man. Every year thousands of people gather in the Nevada desert, approximately 100 miles, northeast of Reno to enjoy this festival. At the Burning Man festival, everything right from the food gardens to the workshop are gifted.
The designing materials used to construct stages, art installations, a team of a mechanic who offers free repairs, and everything else is free of charge. Burning Man costs over $7 million to run and is supported by ticket sales. A team of six people oversees the festival. The profits earned from the event are then invested in creating the next year’s festival.
The festival is a mix of music, art, and community and attracts several tourists from around the world. It is influenced by ten main principles, namely; radical self-reliance, immediacy, civic responsibility, radical self-expression, gifting, radical inclusion, decommodification, civic responsibility, participation, and leave no trace.
Instead of cash, the attendees are encouraged to rely on the gift economy. Burners exchange favors with each other. It encourages the individual to exercise to discover his/her inner resources.
This popular event has been called a beacon of hope for humanity and a spiritual journey, and a literal orgy of wanton sexual encounters and substance abuse. The board member and CEO of Burning Man Project, Marian Goodell, once shared that the radical self-reliance of people at Burning Man looking out for each other is what drives the event.
There is no dustbin in the Black Rock City, so burners take back everything they brought with them. This practice changes the way they look at the litter and what they are bringing into the world.
They aim to create a society that could connect an individual to his/her powers, the realm of civic life, and the world of nature that exists beyond society. They believe that this festival can produce a spiritual change in the world. People would know the moral relationships before politics, support before sponsorship, and roles before jobs.
This event was first held in 1986 on Baker Beach in San Francisco. It was organized by Jerry James and Larry Harvey who built the first man. They burnt an 8-foot tall wooden man on the beach in the summer, following a ritual bonfire tradition by Mary Grauberger.
Since then, this event is celebrated for nine days. This year, the burning man ran from 25 August to 2 September.
At this festival, the communities showcase several forms of artistic self-expression which are enjoyed by everyone. Once an attendee elaborated that Burning Man is about WHY NOT overwhelming WHY. Examples of creativity that are seen in the event are buildings, interactive sculptures, and art cars. The theme is chosen annually by the organizers.
In 2010, over 50,000 people attended Burning Man. The crowd increased in 2011 and the tickets for the event were sold in 2014. The Burning Man Project (a non-profit organization) promotes several smaller regional events inspired by the ten principles, internationally and in the US.
A writer, for a popular journal, wrote that after Burning Man, people change their professions and sometimes their entire lives. It is so because what they experience at the festival urge them to think about their existence in the outside world, which is nothing but pale by comparison. It makes them question about how they are supposed to live their lives.
This festival explains that the real world encourages hard work, luxury, but offers no answers and doesn’t fulfill people’s expectations. But at the festival, people relate to each other at a higher level than they meet in the real world. Everybody comes to rely on one another and take their trash back with them.
Overall, Burning Man encourages everyone to be nice to each other. In summer, in the middle of the desert, burners have no option but to take an interest in each other's interests.
You won’t believe but The Atlantic, Reno-Tahoe International Airport becomes the busiest airport this time. It welcomes over 70,000 people and makes $10 million from Burners. Grocery stores, gas stations around the airport, sell-out duct tapes, and other tools that would be needed by the burners to survive in the arid conditions.
The state of Nevada collects $35 million every year. In 2015, over 40,000 tickets were sold in an hour. In 2016, 30,000 tickets were sold at $390 each (before taxes) within 30 minutes.
The majority of burners here are law-abiding citizens who look forward to having fun and enjoy a gathering with like-minded people. While the festival is called America’s most hedonistic festival, there will always be a few people who are the troublemakers. They ruin everyone’s experience, commit crimes, and get media coverage.
The number of crimes at the Burning Man festival has its story. The Burning Man 2014 resulted in 4 drug citations, and in 2015, there were over 125 citations. There was a 600% increase in arrests in 2015 in comparison to 2014.
Trafficking of a controlled substance was found to be the main cause for the arrest of the majority of people in 2015. The number of sexual assault and such crimes are not confirmed by the Nevada reporters.
This year, the week-long festival had over 55 arrests which are more than last year. Most of the arrests were for drug possession; one arrest was of a sexual assault that occurred on-site before the event's official start. Oleg Gennadievich Ivanov was arrested by deputies at the site for false imprisonment and sexual assault. He is still being held in custody with a $152,500 bail.
The record shows that 62 sexual assaults occurred at the festival between 2002 and 2018. However, Burning Man’s parent nonprofit says 5-20 sexual assault cases are reported every year. Some of the cases do not qualify as sexual assault according to Nevada law. It defines that sexual assault is having sex against their will, and offensive touching does not come under this category.
Besides the arrests, there were two deaths this year: Lonnie Richey, a 61-year old Nevada man, was killed in a car crash. Another man Shane Billingham died on 29th August. He was found unresponsive in a vehicle at the camp.
The summer during this time is hotter than usual, but this doesn’t stop people from attending the event. This year, the festival took place from 25 August to 2 September in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
This year the theme was Metamorphoses - an idea intended as a celebration of change and exploration of uncertainty and embrace of the elusive now.
Several celebs attended the event and posted pictures on their social handles. Here are amazing and surprising photos from the event.
Wow! It is amazing.
That’s what you get at Burning Man.
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Guess who’s back from the dust and magic ?? So much to journal and process before I can articulate just how special my last 10 days has been. Filled with unlimitedness in every possible emotional, creative, intellectual and spiritual way. It was everything. Ugh.. the smile on my face is massive and genuine and my heart is so full. ???? So much love for the two stunning, brave, wise warrior women in this pic with me, you teach me more things than you know. ?? . Ok my loves.. I’ve had absolutely no cell reception.. what have I missed? How are you and what’s happening?
I heard this concept in school but didn’t apply anywhere. It is a great idea to use the spare parts to make new art.
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Welcome back #burners from a long, hot & emotional week with #headmaze at #burningman2019 #burningman #blackrockcity #brc #dancingburningman #burningmanphotos #burningmanart #burningmanusa #blackrockdesert #burningmanvibes #facesofburningman #industwetrust #dailyburnpic #blackrockcitizen
The Burning Man site says its-
"intention is to generate society that connects each individual to his or her creative powers, to participation in the community, to the larger realm of civic life, and to the even greater world of nature that exists beyond society.”
Several festivals are celebrated throughout the year, but I found Burning Man a little surprising and a festival of mix affair. Events are organized to enjoy the unique experience and to get involved in others’ interest. But this festival also has reports of sexual assaults and other crimes.
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