Ozora Festival – Not just a festival, it’s a spiritual awakening

By Kai Teo
Photos: Viktor Chovanec at Ozora Festival Official

Festival: Ozora Festival 2014
Venue: Budapest, Hungary
Date: 29 Jul – 3 Aug ‘14
Artistes: See full list here

Ozora Festival doesn’t just redefine the festival experience, it’s an enlightening journey that invites us to question the way we live our everyday lives, and a gateway to a powerful spiritual awakening.

No shit. This time, Buddha Mag’s going all hippie on you. Brace yourself and let us take you on our journey of 4 bottles of Tequila, 3 bottles of wine, fuck loads of beers, a fair amount of mental supplements, and self-discovery. So here we go.

To get to paradise, you’d need to take the bus ride from hell.

As soon as we got on the shuttle bus that picked us up at Budapest airport, the party began. The tequila bottles popped open and the Jägermeister started pouring down our throats. We made sure to pace ourselves properly, so that we wouldn’t get too drunk even before the festival started. So we finished the Jäger and the tequila, and downed a few beers each. Doesn’t sound too bad right? Well, read on.

Properly preheated by the hot Hungarian sun, the bus has decided to turn itself into a human bakery. And when you put 40 dreadlocked hippies into a confined space, turn the temperature up to “Cook well”, the air starts to smell a little… peculiar. “Oh, and you’re gonna be in there for four hours, just to make sure that the meat is not too bloody. Hold on, I’d have to season y’all with more Jägers, for extra flavour.”

We tried to limit our physical activity to drinking and passing the bottle around. No one wanted to get dehydrated here.

Then the bus jerked to an abrupt halt. The cops.

Even though we knew we’ve done nothing wrong, the sight of the police and the stupidity they represent still managed to make us jittery.

The bus emptied itself of its half-baked contents and we were officially welcomed to Budapest by a roadblock that has been set up to arrest people with dreadlocks. Our passports were taken away for a ‘routine check’ and adorable dogs were sent onto the bus to sniff out any traces of happiness.

As the wind gently caressed our sun-kissed skin, it carried away the unbearable heat. We were standing along the road by a giant cornfield, and the fiery, crimson sun was slowly making its way down the horizon in the distance.

It’s almost as if the police wanted to relieve us of the heat, and invite us to enjoy our first sunset in Budapest. Well, I mean, we tried to pay as little attention to the cops as possible. Any eye contact would immediately send a signal that you might be on drugs and be handcuffed.

It must’ve been 30 or 45 minutes. No one was arrested. And the bus ride continued. You see, we don’t hate cops, I mean, they help investigate shit when you get robbed and stuff, and sometimes you get your shit back. But when they become puppets of a system that merely wants to show that it is effectively “combating crime”, stuff starts becoming messed up. We were frisked like terrorists and treated like prisoners when all we wanted to do was to go to a festival and dance. Meanwhile in the city, people are getting robbed and stabbed. Nice.

Ok fuck that. Back to the bus. By the time we got to the festival grounds, the skies were turning dark and I could almost picture the gods laughing at us, “Haha, you fucking hippies, now let’s see you pitch your tents in complete darkness.”

And then we saw it, the entrance. It said, “Welcome to Paradise”.

Fuck yea. This was it. We were at Ozora.

We pitched our tents in drunken stupor and proceeded straight to the dance floor. The inconvenient delay due to the kind law enforcement officers had made us miss the Opening Ceremony. Well, that only meant that we had to stay for the closing.

We had no idea where we camped. We just knew that we were dying to dance. We followed the unmistakeable “triple unicorn galloping” beats, meandered through the market stalls, and stopped by to buy some pieces of printed cardboard that had weird Dalai Lama prints on them. The lights were dazzling and leaving stark trails in our sight, we couldn’t really see what each stall was selling. But it felt very much like the Arambol street market in Goa. I like. We were just stumbling around with only one mission in mind, to reach the Main Floor.

The Main Floor – A giant Tree of Life where the wild children of Mother Nature gathered to celebrate music and love

The atmosphere at the main floor was that of pure ecstasy. It seemed to ignite the fire breathing dragon residing in each of our hearts, and fired up our animalistic instincts to just let loose and lose ourselves to the gods and goddesses of dance.

The lights, the giant Tree-of-Life décor, the Psytrance. That shit morphed me into an extra-terrestrial being that was only capable of the basic functions of drinking more alcohol, and dancing wildly, and sweating.

The stomping was liberating. I watched as my feet uncontrollably trampled the ground, splattering mud into the air (imagine this in slow motion) and then slowly landing back onto the floor, ready to be put into flight again. My arms and body turned and twisted in a manner that was part graceful-goddess-dance-for-peace-and-love, part angry-monster-displaying-might-and-wrecking-destruction. I had been possessed by my own soul.

And every time the beat dropped after a long build-up, my lungs and throat released an unearthly roar that would mark my return to the original being – the animal.

I lost myself for a few hours and when I finally looked up, the sun was staring back at me with a look of approval, “Yes my child, you have proven your worth on the dance floor.”

Adventures of the Tent Hunters – “Where the fuck are we?”

The festival grounds were huge, and very muddy. And there were about 800 camping areas to choose from. We would walk down a certain trail, figured that everything looked too unfamiliar, then backtrack to the main area, only to question our decision and then walk down the same path again. We did this for about 2 hours. There was a whole load of self-doubt, trust issues, and the mix-up of possible memory versus hopeful affirmation.

And when we finally got to our tent. It felt as if we had explored the entire festival area and now were rewarded with an hour of sleep before the sun raged into our tents and blazed us alive.

Return to the original human VS they have a fridge in their tent.

Festivals and camping have taught me what essentials are, and how little human beings need to be comfortable and have a good time. So at Ozora, our tents were as basic as a lion’s den, plus a change of clothes. Fuck the sleeping bag, fuck shampoo, fuck inflatable shit. If water doesn’t get in, I can put my stuff in there, and it doesn’t disappear with the wind, it’s a good tent.

We woke up to the monotonous rumbling of a generator at the caravan that we pitched our tents beside. As I peeled my eyes open, I realised that our neighbours had almost built a permanent shelter that could house 30 hippies. They had tables, pillows, a shower, floor mats, a hanging chandelier, a fucking vase for flowers, cooking utensils, a stove, and a fridge inside one of the tents.

That was a five-star accommodation. And that wasn’t something I could identify with. For the next one week, I never saw our neighbours leave their camping area except to collect water. They had their own music, their own food, their own festival. Maybe they called it Ozori or something, but it’s definitely not the same festival I was going to. Because I believe that:

The more basic we become, the closer we come to the divine.

Many people have tried to uplift the human creature to something higher than it actually is. You see, Mother Nature built a perfect system of interconnectedness, interdependency, and inter-existence. I eat you, you eat me, I reproduce, you reproduce, we eat that, and all that stuff. It all comes full circle at the end of the day in a perfect cycle of sustainability and harmony.

The animals have gotten it all right. Follow the original system and you’d be fine.

Humans though, not so clever. We thought we could build a better system. “Hey, cities seem like a good idea. Let’s come up with money! Yea! Oh, and offices! Offices are cool, we sit 8–5 in a small cubicle and do useless shit, that’s the way forward!” And that’s where it all got fucked up.

Camping, eating, drinking, dancing, running around barefoot, has made me realise that the more basic we live, the closer we return to what Mother Nature has intended for us – the return to the perfect system.

Instead of looking to the stars to search for the divine, all we need to do is to reach down and touch the ground. That’s where the truth lies.

But now that we’ve come too far to revert back to the original, we’d use all the resources and technology we can to help awaken the sleeping human species to well, live more sustainably, lessen our impact on the earth, and keep surviving. Well, then again, if we start viewing the entire universe as a single entity, humans can easily be dismissed as a parasite that, in time to come, will be subject to de-evolution. Planet earth would be fine, it’s ourselves that we’re fucking up.

So what’s your take?

But I digress, as always. Back to the festival.

Ozorians (noun): a common tribe of human beings that has diverged from the modern society and instead embrace the values of freedom, truth, honesty, love and respect.

What made Ozora magical and spiritually enlightening for me wasn’t the Psytrance, it was the community. And well, Raja Ram (the Godfather of Psytrance) too.

Our week at Ozora had been filled with amazing people that opened their hearts and souls to the world. They had nothing to hide, nothing to fear, all they wanted to do was to love, and embrace every second of their lives. Well of course, not everyone was like that, there were weekend ravers that couldn’t give a shit about getting to talk to others, and there were hardcore pill poppers that even couldn’t see anything, let alone see the festival’s philosophy.

But I managed to stay away from the bad vibes.

The thing with many Ozorians, in my opinion, is that they have seen what’s wrong with today’s societies that we live in. And they know exactly how they want their universe to be: nice and stuff, with good values. So when they come to Ozora, it’s like a giant gathering of people who have the same ideals, trying to live according to their desired way of life for a week, and then bring the experience back to the outside world.

That, my friend, gave birth to 7 days of pure love, pure joy and a powerful confirmation that good values would make a good world.

Simple shit, like saying hi and smiling when we walked past one another, showing genuine interest when we talked in the queue, sharing our water when you saw that someone was thirsty – little acts that add up to make the world a nicer place to live in.

The Ozorians I met touched me deeply. I felt like I’ve found family. People who told me that what I’ve always been doing is leading me on a right path. People who came up to me randomly, hugged me, and told me that they loved me, because I was giving out very good energy.

I used to dismiss the energy thing as something I didn’t want to explore and dwell on. But this festival, more than 20 people came up to me and said the same thing (fuck yea, look at me, I’m famous, haha). They might have been all high as fuck, but I knew they weren’t lying to me. It must’ve meant that I’m actually giving good vibes to the people around me.

That was a major encouragement to me, to continue looking at the world with my own warped lenses, to beam love as much as I can, and to embrace every second of my life and make it as good as I can. And here, I would like to thank everyone at Ozora, sincerely, who has helped me and inspired me to be an even better human being.

The levitation stick – a new breakthrough in dance

The levitation stick is a simple weighted stick that hangs vertically on a fishing string. Hook the string onto your finger and swing it around properly and it’ll look like you’re waving a magic wand around – Look ma, no hands!

I never thought that I was good at it. Because I’ve never seen other people playing it, or other people being interested when I play with it. But at Ozora, I realised that every time I took out the levitation stick, a little crowd (ok, maybe 2 people), would gather.

Through that, I realised that I actually played it quite well. It wasn’t because I knew more tricks or could spin it faster. I think it was because I played with it like it was more than a toy. I treated it as an extension of my body, a culmination of my movements, and an expression of my dance. I had a philosophy whenever I held the string in my hand: to respect it and treat it as if it were alive, as if it was a dance partner. Because through that, I could bring entertainment to people, and by watching me dance, they could feel joy.

Fucking simple shit. I don’t even need to talk to people now. I just dance, do my own shit, wave some stick around, and people get happy. Secret to life, wham, bam, mysteries of the universe solved.

And now, with technology, there’s something called video recording that humans use to capture movements and then replay them. And they put it up on a common sharing space they call the internet. I know these terms are unfamiliar to the average hippie, but you can check out what I mean by the levitation stick by clicking here. And yea, I hope you like it.

Different arenas, same good vibes.

Ozora festival isn’t just Psytrance. The main stage is. But there’s also a myriad of stalls selling hippie stuff like flow toys, hippie clothes, kaleidoscopes, crystals, little trinkets and jewellery, and food, glorious food from langos to fried rice, to original Indian train chai and Tibetan momos.

We ate the fuck out of those stalls. All that dance needs to come from somewhere. And iced chai is my god.

The Dragon’s Nest is worth a special mention. Nestled cosily in a clearing above a little hill, it is accessible via a huge-ass bridge that looks like a dragon, constructed completely out of wood. So you’re walking into a dragon’s mouth, through its belly, and coming out of its ass to arrive at its nest. Mind-boggling, but cool.

The arena was home to live performances by bands that created music of all genres, using all sorts of instruments. It was also a haven for those who would like free massages, crystal healing and chakra cleansing. If you don’t believe in this stuff, that’s cool. But some people do and it makes them happy, so deal with it.

The Circus tent was pretty fucking insane too. It’s kinda like Cirque du Soleil, but more primitive, less expensive-looking, and with the same level of genius. It instantly takes you into the circuses we see in movies, sand on the ground, flying people, clowns, and all that cool stuff. The performers took human beauty to the next level and did stuff that I thought was humanly impossible. Yes, my magic stick thing? They make me look like some sad little boy that had to settle for the Foosball Club because I couldn’t make the football team.

And the Chillout tent was super chilled out compared to the main stage despite the fact that it was constantly blasting out hard dub, minimal psy, dubstep and drum & bass. It was a giant tent and had nice warm sand on the floor, a very welcoming touch after having our feet buried in gooey mud the whole time.

Drugs? What drugs?

No one talks about that at Ozora. Hungary has a tough stance against spiritual heightening experiences and that can be felt all over the festival. We did not consume any illegal substances. But instead, we ate some natural chemicals that propelled us to ecstatic levels of consciousness, enhanced all our senses, and pushed our awareness of energies and realities into a colourful, beautiful frenzy.

We’d call it El-assdee.

It was during one of these trips to eternity that I came up with this theory. You know how every time we take El-assdee, we are forced to confront our lives and usually arrive at a common conclusion that we should live as one common species and in perfect harmony with Mother Nature?

So maybe, just maybe, that every drop of El-assdee is Mother Nature’s tears – her plea for us to come back to her embrace, her reminder that we are all part of the same entity, and that we are all divine as animals. Well I mean, that’s a really romantic way of euphemising a chemical, but hey, seeing life this way makes things a lot more interesting.

Even buying groceries can be seen as an adventure to discover the culinary kingdom of the supermarket, while evading the attacks from evil genetically modified bananas that are threatening to kill you and your family.

The storm – Our party spirit put to the test

On day 2 or 3 (doesn’t really matter), the heavens issued Ozorians a test: So you think you party hard? Let’s see you party as you face my wrath. If you’re still dancing at the end of this, I’ll issue you a certificate.

Then it came like fucking Armageddon. Thick, cumulonimbus clouds covered the entire sky, shrouding the festival in darkness and foreboding uneasiness. The winds howled furiously, as if to tell us, “Remember, nature will forever be more powerful than all of you!” The skies poured and drowned out our chatter, all we could hear was pitter-patter. Lightning flashed across the distance menacingly, and the thunder was more deafening than any Psytrance we’ve heard.

We ran, and laughed, and danced our way to seek shelter. As we all huddled up together, ravers, hippies, children, animals, pensioners, we saw that we were all one. Rain actually brought us closer together. In that confined space, we were all subject to the same shit, and we were made to talk to one another and get to know new friends.

Whatever the fuck it was, we made the best out of it.

We shared alcohol, we exchanged contacts, we helped the others get into shelter, and we hugged those that were cold. See if that happens in the city.

When the storm finally let up, we were all still alive, and well rested to fuck up the dance floor even harder. We passed the test, but our tents didn’t. A friend had a foresight to put his shit inside my tent, which was waterproof, and prayed for the best for his. And yes, when we got back to the campsite, what was left of his tent was just a mere memory that it used to be there somewhere. We speculated that it had been blown away to Serbia so that a homeless person could get some shelter that evening.

A spiritual awakening – everyday is Ozora.

The common human spirit, the power of the collective soul, and the beauty of living as a harmonious community were pretty evident at Ozora. What the festival, and its people, taught me was that life could always be better if we try. Better not in the sense that we’ll be richer in terms of the material, but better in a way that our everyday experience becomes more enriching, and more joyous.

You know, share freely, beam hardcore love freely, smile often, be nice to strangers. All that shit. It makes life better for not just us, but for the people around us.

Thank you Ozorians, you have renewed my faith in the human spirit, and you have inspired me to carry out our common mission to spread love to the world. Ok, maybe not Nazis, I don’t like those kinds.

And for the first time in Buddha Mag history, we’re gonna sign off by saying LOVE AND LIGHT. Seeya next year.


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