Thursday, July 9, 2009



I was invited to attend the Garma Aboriginal festival:  www.garma.telstra.com

     It's truly amazing, but the challenge is the $2,200 additional funding!

I'm having a documentary film showing on July 22.  Fine Arts Theatre, 7pm -Whaledreamers: www.whaledreamers.com

but if you can't make it, do try to see the film, it is brilliant.  

     I am learning so much. For instance, I had not realized that playing the yidaki (didjeridu) is only for men.  It's men's business and illegal for women.  Cultural understanding then comes in bits in pieces: 


The sound of the yidaki at Gulkula is a call to the Yolngu clans of Northeast Arnhem Land to come together. It is a call to all peoples to come together in unity. Every August it is also a call to men from around the world who are enthusiastic about the "didjeridu" enthusiasts to come visit the home of the instrument and learn from traditional masters at the Garma Festival.


Non-Indigenous use of yidaki

In the Northern Territory, around Australia, and even internationally, yidakis are being sold in their thousands by those who have no connection to Yolngu. The Garma Festival hopes to remind people that these instruments and their music have sacred cultural uses associated with them that are still being practiced.

Mandawuy Yunupingu explains:

Yolngu understand the yidaki has become an Australian icon and accept non-Yolngu people throughout the world now use it for informal purposes and enjoyment. Be aware, however, that its origins are sacred and secret to Yolngu men. Those stories can not be told here, they can only be shared with initiated men. The yidaki is a male-oriented instrument. In Yolngu society women are forbidden to play it as its origins are sacred to men.

Healing power of the yidaki

Mandawuy Yunupingu explains:

Yolngu people have long recognised the healing powers of the yidaki. Through the provision of exercises for breathing, the yidaki holds collective powers in the healing process. The sound transfers peaceful vibrations that penetrate the mind and create inner spiritual oneness in an individual or group. In some cases, the yidaki is used for physical healing with the player concentrating his breath on an afflicted part of the patient's body.

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