The local community of Hima Mawphlang in the East Khasi Hills have been protecting this forest since a thousand years
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When I was in the US last year, I finally received my passes for the Ultra Music Festival. I’d saved up from my pocket money for a few months to buy those tickets and be a part of one of those magical festivals that I’d only seen on YouTube. Finally my dream of attending one was about to come true. When I landed Miami, the festival fever was palpable. I was awestruck by the sight of people draped in the flags of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Canada and many other countries, cheering and dancing their way out of the airport. It all seemed like a dream for me as I couldn't imagine so many people coming from across the world just to be a part of this one festival. While I was waiting for my cab, I began a conversation with a middle-aged man. He had, it turned out, quit his job to travel the world and attend all the music festival that year. At first it sounded a little crazy to me, but when he told me the reason behind this, it made sense. “Music festivals made me feel like I was a part of a cultural exchange. I’ve made really good friends across the world and I’ve visited so many places where I wouldn’t otherwise have had gone,” he said. What he said made me realise that my idea of a music festival was a bit superficial—it wasn’t just about people wearing skimpy clothes and getting stoned. I felt that I was going to become a part of something much bigger than I had imagined.In this war-torn world, it’s amazing to see people of different cultures coming together, merging differences, letting go of inhibitions and giving in to the beat. Nobody cares about your race or your faith, you’re united in music.
Music festivals have also started serving as a platform for the promotion of cultural diversity and travel. There were so many small cities that no one knew of, before a music festival sprouted there and made it famous. The Coachella Valley in the Californian desert has become a big tourist destination ever since it started hosting the annual Coachella Music and Art Festival. The Summerfest in Milwaukee attracts up to a million people every year, making it the world’s largest music festival. Some people also call festival culture a social revolution as most of these festivals attract fans from all over the world; travel is easier and cheaper, so people are willing to cross continents to be a part of a cultural exchange.
As these festivals grow more popular, festival producers are spending more money to make them bigger and better each year. And tourists are spending even more to be a part of it. Just take US as an example. From spring till fall, these festivals create jobs for a lot of local vendors. Festivals like the Electronic Daisy Carnival, Nocturnal Wonderlandand many more provide temporary jobs for the unemployed. Insomniac, one of the biggest producers of music festivals across the world, generated $3.2 billion of economic activity in the past few years; it created about 25,000 full-time jobs its 48 festivals helped in generating taxes for the local and state governments to the tune of $180 million in the past few years. India too is making its mark on the festival circuit: Sunburn in Goa is one of the biggest music festivals in Asia and others like the NH7 Weekenders and the Escape Festival of Music & Arts at Naukuchiatal have started to attract tourists from outside India. However, it’s still a nascent dream here, but once fully-formed, music festivals in India can help foster the same sense of cultural mingling and ecstacy that the man in Miami had told me about.
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