U DAY I - Thailand 2012

The first U DAY Festival took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand on December 22-23, 2012. After more than two years of planning and preparation, the Festival was timed to take place at a moment when there was considerable excitement around the supposed end of the Mayan long-form Calendar. The theme of the event was UNITY and U DAY I attracted artists, musicians, visionaries and travellers from all around the world.

The Festival opened on the afternoon on December 22 with a Multi-faith Opening Ceremony. Representatives of many different faith-traditions participated in the beautiful ceremony, blessing the Festival each in their own way.

After this the main concert U-NITE! commenced. Featuring a line-up of local and international artists and showcasing a mix of folk, traditional, rock and electronic music the concert was a brilliant display of unity in diversity and contained some truly world-class performances. The headline act for the U-NITE! concert was acclaimed international Reggae star Pato Banton, playing with Ras I Ray and Rootsdawtah and backed up by local reggae band Bangkok Smoke Run. Pato played an epic two hour set which thrilled and enchanted the 500 strong audience. During the concert there was also presentations from other spiritual leaders as well as some messages from Social Justice Advocates.

The festival concluded with a multi-faith dawn service on December 23, U DAY Morning. Beginning with the ethereal drone of a didgeridoo accompanied by the chanting of more than 50 monks, this dawn ceremony was a powerful Interspiritual event. The Jewish Shema was proclaimed, the Muslim Call-to-Prayer rung out, Baha’i songs of unity were performed, Hindu blessings given and Christian songs of thanks and praise were heard alongside Rastafari readings and personal prayers and reflections from all present.

U DAY I though small in scale represented a beautiful coming together of people from many different countries and faith-perspectives. The experiment of combining together an inter-faith gathering with a spiritual musical event was a tremendous success.

We didn’t know if it would ever happen again, but everyone involved felt the great power and potential of the event and the format.