Honoring the Sea:  World Festival of Sacred Music 2008
28 September 2008
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Lisa and I began doing things together at the first World Festival of Sacred Music event in 1999.  We drove to the beach to participate in the Honoring the Sea closing ceremony on a beautiful September afternoon.

The World Festival of Sacred Music began that year as a one-time millennium event in 1999 with a letter from the Dalai Lama who suggested that people from around the world mark the new millennium with hope and commitment to peace and universal responsibility through music.


Banda Juvenil Solaga, a brass band from Oaxaca, play in the opening procession of Honoring the Sea, the festival closing ceremony on Santa Monica Beach at Ocean Park.

However, the World Festival of Sacred Music continued beyond that, offering a festival in the city every three years.  This is the fourth festival.

The first three festivals had 185 multidisciplinary events presenting the work of 6,000 artists in 180 diverse venues across Los Angeles and an attendance of 200,000 people in the 1999, 2002 and 2005 Festivals.  World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles is the largest citywide Festival currently active in this city.


One hundred dancers led by Keali’i Ceballos and Sissy Kaio chanted and danced on the sands in reverence of Kanaloa, the Hawaiian deity of the ocean.

Lisa and I had attended several of the events this year, as we do with each World Festival of Sacred Music.  Lorenzo, the drummer in my band, also met up with us for part of the closing ceremony. 

This weekend was particularly packed with events, with my band playing two gigs in the same weekend as well as WFSM events and editing The Tibet Connection radio show.

The traditional canoe of the Tongva, paddled beyond the breakwaters, carrying the offerings to the sea and sacred blessings to the waters.

Afro-Brazilian dancers twirl and dance in celebration of Yemanja, the Afro-Brazilian sea goddess.  This unique photo was taken through the mesh windows of the tent, lending an otherworldly feel to the dancer.

Resting by the sea as the Remo Drum Circle as drummers and dancers from Burkino Faso pay homage to the Yuroba Orisha.

Ecstatic dancing to the rhythms of the Remo drum circle on the sandy beaches of Santa Monica.

The World Festival of Sacred Music's Honoring the Sea closing ceremony attracts a lot of interesting people from Los Angeles and around the world.

Kings from Burger King pay homage to Yemanja, the Afro-Brazilian sea goddess.

The Burger Kings, from the creepy Burger King commercial, stroll the beach.

Paying homage to...something, of that I'm sure.

An offering to the sea.

Honoring the sea as the tide comes in further and further, carrying hundreds of colorful petals from the many offerings that day.

Honoring the Sea.

Women holding hands while honoring the sea, symbolizing unity and, with the Band-Aid, perhaps the idea that unity isn't always easy.

A shivering woman honors the sea.

To my surprise, the World Festival of Sacred Music has been using an earlier version of this photo in their late 2010 email to organize the next festival.

Facing the warming rays of the sunlight while meditating.

After the last rays of the sun melted below the Pacific, the crowd threw down peace signs and cheered.

It was 6:45, and I had a 9pm gig at Molly Malone's with my band.  I climbed in my car and drove cross-town to Fairfax to eat the lip-smacking vegetarian combination at Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant and Market before continuing up the street to the pub.  I arrived just in time to see the last three minutes of the Chicago Bears beating the Eagles, and then played a 40-minute set to a warm crowd.

Sometimes, life is sweet.

Honoring the Sea: World Festival of Sacred Music 2008
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