“Burning” could mean a lot of things. It could mean to combust or contain a fire, to be something that gives off heat, to glow or to be bright, or to feel a certain painful or stinging sensation. These are the definitions that could be found in the dictionary or any kind of factual, academic source.
However, “burning” takes on a whole new meaning when associated with an event celebrated by thousands of free souls every year. Known as the Burning Man festival, this is something that cannot be easily defined by a few simple words. Why? Because this event is downright matchless and out of the ordinary.
Many who have been to this event, or even the organizers themselves, have said that Burning Man is something that must be experienced to be properly defined. Sure, it’s easy to derive an idea of the event from the many photographs and other different kinds of accounts in the internet, but it surely is different to experience this wonderful celebration first-hand.
Held at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, United States, this festival concentrates on radical self-expression and radical self-reliance. What started out as a bonfire ritual by a small group of friends in the summer solstice in 1986 is now a celebration that has been attended by about 50,000 people (in the 2010 Burning Man, more than 51,000 people participated).
Different themes for this event are created each year, so participants will sure to have something new in every year’s celebration. Being in the Black Rock Desert during this festival is like being in a whole new time and place—here you will be able to escape the things that you usually see in the city, you will see nothing that resembles a life so stressful and chaotic, and you will not deal with people who refuse to accept you for who you are. In Burning Man, you will be welcomed by and will participate in a community that encourages you to be yourself, and to express it in your own original and unique ways.
The event website has these ten principles that must be remembered for every person who is planning to go:
Radical Inclusion – this principle highlights the idea of acceptance. This simply lets us know that anyone can participate and will be welcomed.
Gifting – the event is dedicated to the act of unconditional giving and sharing.
Decommodification - the event is not tainted with commercial sponsorships or any kind of advertising.
Radical self-reliance – this principle means that each person who will be attending the celebration must discover and learn by means of relying on inner resources.
Communal effort – the event encourages cooperation, interaction, and collaboration among participants.
Civic responsibility – the community members who will be organizing the events should always be responsible for public welfare and being responsible with laws.
Leaving no trace – the festival respects the ground where the celebrations are held, so this principle asks the participants to clean up after themselves. Leave the place the way that you found it; or if possible, make it better.
Participation – everyone attending is encouraged to take part, help out, and of course, have fun with everyone who they’ll be sharing the event with.
Immediacy – this highlights “immediate experience,” which involves overcoming all kinds of barriers, being in contact with the world around us, and recognizing our inner selves.
The Burning Man is all about experience, creativity, and expression. Expect different kinds of art here, and perhaps you will find creations that cannot be found in famous art galleries or museums. There will be so many installations, theme camps, performances, different kinds of sculpture, and many other forms of expression.
From August 29 to September 5, 2011, the expanse of the Black Rock Nevada will be turned into a huge outdoor exhibition of amazing works of art. They say that each person who comes here leaves the desert with something that he/she will hold on to forever. Though it is imperative that the desert must go back to its old appearance after the festival, the marks left in the minds and hearts of the ones who were there will surely mark that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
On Saturday evening, the event’s name will come into life, as the Man will be burned, and build new meanings that will sure to stay in each participant’s hearts even after the event. The flame that will be lit may end, but the fire and the experience will certainly not end.