Pashut Festival: How The Middle East’s Biggest Naturist Festival Got Started
Guest blog by: Shradha Netzer
What is now one of the most known festivals happening in Desert Ashram started as a wild and innovative idea of two young and ambitious Israeli Osho Sanyasins (as in followers of Osho, spiritual teacher of 1970’s and 80’s) named Utsav Love and Rafik Yedidya. They believed in nudity as a way to connect to our true nature and bring love and healing to the body, a way to celebrate life.
Utsav and Rafik started to spread the idea by creating a nude space in a big new-age spiritual festival that was happening in Israel at the time – “Bereshit Festival.” Surprisingly this nude space, ‘Just Be Naked,’ was happily accepted in the festival. The guests slowly but surely started to open up to the idea of social nudity. Israel’s new-age scene, composed of many Israeli Osho sanyasins who came back from India, welcomed and encouraged this way of living. It came along with a belief of living life freely and totally, freeing oneself from societies scriptures that defines what is allowed and acceptable and what is not.
Seeing the crowd’s enthusiasm and openness, Utsav realized that this concept should get its own festival- a whole festival concerning just being naked. He was living in Desert Ashram and it was found as the perfect place to host such an event. This is how the “Just Be Naked Festival” was created. From a space that was a part of a bigger festival it became its own small event, attended by a few dozen of sanyasins and veteran naturists.
Well, as you can guess being naked in the desert can be a bit problematic sometimes… At the time Desert Ashram was not as adjusted to hosting festivals as it is today, and after one day of running around naked the organizers of the festival got so sunburned that being naked was no longer possible for them. That was a shame, but what can you do? You must pay the price of being the producers.
Although they dealt with a numerous amount of technical challenges, the event was fun and full of joy and even happened for a second time in the same year. Since then a naked gathering takes place in the Ashram twice a year.
“Just Be Naked” with time became the “Pashut Festival.” The name was changed but the location and the vision stayed the same. It was never easy to hold this space. Naturally, different challenges came together while dealing with this controversial theme. Inside the community of the Ashram were people who were not so excited about this event happening in their home. The festival attracted different kinds of people, some of them not so respectful of the pure and simple nudity. After a few unpleasant experiences and discussions following that, the “Ten Commandments of Pashut” were created. It was necessary to form a mutual agreement about boundaries and respect in the nude space.
The Desert Ashram, besides producing Pashut Festival, is a home for spiritual seekers and a lot of therapeutic processes happen there in other festivals and weekend workshops. This affected Pashut. From being just a naked celebration and a place to meet new naturist friends, slowly a deeper meaning was added to it through the workshops. The festival’s line-up started to include a variety of spiritual workshops dealing with the non-simple challenge of accepting our body and our mind, just as they are. The workshops deal with our self-esteem, with the shame and the fear that come along with being naked. The experience of participating in the festival also started to affect its participants in spiritual and emotional aspects of their lives.
Slowly the rumor about this unusual 4-day event started to spread, and each year it got bigger and bigger. These days Pashut Festival is one of the most important festivals happening in Desert Ashram, and it is the biggest nude event that takes place in the Middle East.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that when we are naked something different opens up in us, and there is a feeling of celebration in the air. Maybe that’s the beauty and uniqueness that allows this festival to keep happening over and over again for the last 12 years.
The 2nd Pashut Festival of 2015 is coming up September 17 – 19 at Desert Ashram!