Shoonya Festival: Be a part of this healing and conscious living festival in the mountains

Mar18,2024


Attendees at the Shoonya festival in Uttarakhand, 2023

Attendees at the Shoonya festival in Uttarakhand, 2023
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In a bustling landscape of festivals clamouring for attention with their A-list celebrity line-ups and gastronomic delights, stands a festival of nothingness. All set to be held in Tehri, Uttarakhand, the Shoonya Festival beckons soul-seekers, free spirits, and the curious minded with its unique blend of mindful ceremonies, and transformative experiences.

At Shoonya, the spotlight does not shine on stages crowded with performers, but rather on spaces brimming with possibilities — workshops on meditation, drum circles, bonfire music sessions and more. 

Shoonya festival in Goa, 2023

Shoonya festival in Goa, 2023
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Shoonya, meaning zero, was started byAnuj Agrawal, a marketing professional, in 2018 with his friends after wanting to host an event in the mountains that was not a music or a food event. “Over the course of time, we get labels attached to us based on our jobs, but that’s not who we are. The whole idea of Shoonya revolves around being nothing,” he says, adding that when someone comes to Shoonya, they are expected to leave their tags behind. 

At this festival of nothingness, who you are professionally does not matter. With a strict no-shop-talk policy, conversations inevitably dig into self identity and reflection. The three-day, two-night festival expects its participants to come with no expectations whatsoever. “We do have a set plan of activities, but we do not disclose it to the participants. People have a lot of inhibitions, but once they are here, they become a part of it,” says Anuj. 

Shoonya festival in Uttarakhand, 2023

Shoonya festival in Uttarakhand, 2023
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Since the festival is not funded by sponsors, it relies on participant fees and hence, picking the apt location is key. “We’re conscious about not picking venues that are commercial and try to involve the locals. So Shoonya is often held in remote locations,” says Anuj. This year’s Shoonya is being held at a restored haveli turned homestay. 

Shoonya festival in Uttarakhand, 2023

Shoonya festival in Uttarakhand, 2023
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

“The festival is projected as a zero-waste festival, and we have a zero-drug policy,” he says, adding that the festival days are divided into high energy and low energy portions. The first day is kept low-key with an induction and a musical session for everyone to get to know one another, and day two is particularly high-energy with activities like drum circles, and the third day focusses on introspection. 

“A drum circle is an African tribal cultural activity where people from different walks of life come together to make music. It’s a circle of peace, harmony and togetherness,” says Manu, founder of Drum Circle India, adding that holding drum circles at Shoonya becomes about identity than music. “We sit together and find our intuitive rhythms. Sometimes when your inner rhythm is lost, you have to go out in the world and listen to the world’s rhythm, and vice versa,” he says.

Even though there are no A-list musicians or bands performing, the festival plays host to several facilitators like art therapists, drum circle experts, yoga instructors and more, who travel from around the world to help participants better express and reflect. In 2023, Shoonya had three editions — in Jaipur, Goa, and Uttarakhand.

The Shoonya Festival will be held from March 29 to 31, in Tehri, Uttarakhand. For details and tickets, log on to shoonyafestival.com.

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