Key-Note Speakers

Maa Gyaan Suveer Yogini

Gifted yogini , vedic astrologer, specialist in Life Force Energy. With more than three and a half decades ON her blissful journey, she has transformed as a beacon to countless people. While bringing up the KIRTI HERMITAGE in Rishikesh, her efforts hold high appreciation from people belonging to various spheres & walks of life.

Urmi Basu, Founder, New Light India

New Light provides education, healthcare and nutritional support, as well as the opportunity to live free of abuse, violence and stigma to more than two hundred children of sex workers. In addition to running shelters for children, the agency founded in 2000 with just $200 also aims to stop the trafficking of young girls into sex trade and to provide care to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Shreejan Sita, Founder Utsava Maa & Director Rajasthan Hatha Yoga Institute

Veteran Yoga Therapist and Ayurveda Practitioner, Shree open the festival with brief history of the goddess, the purpose of Shakti in the world, the story behind the founding of Utsava Maa, and the founding of Shri Jasnath Asan.

Nanda Huneman, author ‘Widows Do Not In Love’

“All women marry,” is a popular saying in India. The author’s quest is for single women, an exceptional group in a country where 99% of women are married. She is determined to find women without a single man among them. She wants to find out what drives them to live alone. In this book, she portrays widows, never-married and divorced women in a narrative way. To the stage of Utsava Maa, Nanda brings her research along with a subject of the book who can speak to the subject first hand.

Gajra Choudhary, Ex Super Intendent Jodhpur School District

The obstacles put in front of Madame Choudhary since her 4th class year, designed to prevent her from continuing with schooling, made her strong enough to continue far beyond her peers. Against all odds, she finished a doctorate and taking up the post of leader of the largest school district in Rajasthan. She retired with accolades and honors after a long career, and raising a happy family still married to the groom with whom her grandfather had matched her when she was still a toddler. Now she takes up a post in an NGO with enthusiasm and optimism that she will pass along to her listeners.

Deepti Ashtana, Photo Journalist Gender & Human Rights Issues in Rural India

Deepti’s story-filled images have been published in published in BBC News, Al Jazeera English, Huffington Post, Daily Post, Der Spiegel, The Hindu, Hindu Business Line. She brings to the stage 3 Thar Desert forest rangers to tell the story of ‘The Daughters of the Dunes’

Workshop Leaders

Elizabeth Gilbert, author ‘Eat Pray Love’

Liz will lead an all-day, immersive creativity workshop, to help you get on the other side of your fear, so you can start making what you want to make in the world. Through a series of simple writing exercises, Liz will help you navigate (and make peace with) the many different voices in your head that keep telling you that you aren’t good enough, brave enough, original enough, or strong enough to be creative. This is spiritual work, open to anyone with the curiosity to join. (In other words, you don’t have to be an official “artist” to participate.) Bring an open mind and an open heart to this day of gentle, compassionate, and quietly fierce awakening.”

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Maa Gyaan Suveer

Based on both Indian and western methods of letting go, Maa will present the profound wisdom of creating space within and expanding beyond self-created boundaries through a sequence of “prAyaschit – passhyAtAp – karunA”. Together with techniques of erasing karmic patterns that cause suffering from a deeper level, participants will feel a great weigh lifted from within.

Kristen Ali Eglinton, PhD, Executive Director & Co-founder of Footage Foundation

In this unique story sharing workshop, young women will experience how cultivating narrative and voice fosters compassion and human connection among self and society. The experience will enhance participants’ innate agency, diminish shame, and inspire wellbeing. Using a unique multi-media storytelling process, this event prioritizes young women as experts on their lives and agents of change while offering them an inclusive network of sister-kind at Utsava Maa. Through Footage Foundation, Kristen has conducted storytelling programs with the most silenced young women in human rights contexts throughout the world.

Shannon Nicole Bobo, Enneagram Experience

The Enneagram is an ancient mandala used for self-realization and holistic living. This model of the human psyche has been used by mystics from all major wisdom and faith traditions to tap into the subconscious mind and reconnect to one’s trues essence. Incorporating key aspects of Yogic Philosophy, Ayurveda, Sacred Numerology, Sacred Geometry, the Journey of the Chakras and Archetypal Psychology. It is truly a powerhouse workshop for awakening the soul and balancing body, heart and mind

Vanessa CL, Moon Mother Teacher.

It is our feminine nature to renew our body every month, our sacred blood cycle creates fire energy within us that can be used to transform, create and build our dreams. Every woman embodies 4 different energies that are integrated in our menstrual cycle and evolved during and after menopause. These energies flow through our lives with the rhythm of the Moon’s phases, with the rhythm of female life stages (motherhood, menopause), and also with the rhythm of our menstrual cycle as part of the cosmos of feminine energy and the universe. This workshop introduces you to your cosmic sacred cycle, so that you can re-discover your female nature and interact with your changes in a positive way.

Shreejan Sita, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist

The root of illness is always in the mind. Symptoms arise as triggered by our lifestyle and thinking. It is only due to lack of wisdom that we don’t experience our true nature, with the added challenge for every woman to decide whether or not she wants to take responsibility for her own wellbeing. The wisdom we have come to Utsava Maa to inherit is that Maa is Nature, and Nature is the one healer. Through an understanding of the vast resources available to us through Ayurveda (The Science of Life), and with empathy, joy and respect, every woman can experience a consistent, never-ending, healing flow of energy – it’s the life force that Maa sent you with to this great classroom.

Zeffi Devi, Living Goddess Guide

For all women ready to expand their spiritual acknowledge and experience. Practices for body, mind and spirit bringing greater self-awareness, opening your sensual energy, the awareness of your inner-power, recognizing your inner Goddess and-Feminine self as well as your intuition. What are our energy centers, or chakras, and what do they mean to us? How do we lose energy? What steps can we take to rejuvenate and sustain our energy?

Chef Melissa D’Elia

Chef Melissa D’Elia is a graduate of Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health in New York and now works as a personal chef teaching her clients how to use food to heal the body.  For Utsava Maa she will be demonstrating recipes and cooking techniques appropriate for each of the 3 doshas explained through Ayurveda philosophy – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Students will take home a recipe perfect for their body type and season.

Nanda Huneman, Author

Nanda will teach you different creative writing techniques to arrive at an accurate and intriguing portrait of a woman. With examples from her book ‘Widows Don’t Fall in Love’, she will illustrate how to write in a concrete manner while remaining lively and poetic. Surprising and easy to follow exercises help you to deepen and spice up your writing skills. After this workshop you know how to write round, interesting and creative portrait.

Jacqui Lalita

This dance workshop is a journey into the wild woman within. Using traditional belly dance and sacred dance as our foundation, this journey invites us to stoke the fires of our femininity and nurture our connection to our bellies and our Shakti creative life force. Come ready to sweat your prayers and offer your tears, laughter and wild, sacred feminine to the altar of love. Suitable for beginners and advanced dancers alike.

Jennifer Lopez, Holistic Health Coach

Combining the best of health care wisdom from the East and the West participants will travail the journey back to biological roots of gratitude exploring the myriad ways that women cultivate feelings of gratitude in their everyday lives. Learn graceful methods of ritualizing gratitude through healthy eating, self-awareness, and encounters with fate and nature.

Pooja Nathawat

Traditionally, Bharatanatyam has been a solo dance that was performed exclusively by women, and expressed Hindu spirituality. Its foundations can be traced to Sanskrit texts in ancient Tamil epics, and was performed inside the temple. It was a well refined performance art by the mid 1st millennium C.E. It may be the oldest classical dance tradition in India. Master dancer Pooja will lead you through some basic moves and gestures so you can worship in the temple of your body as well!

Yoga Teachers

Mandira Choudhary

Clarisssa Mae Thompson

Maria Sarah

Namita Kulkarni


Sacred Tunes of
Sangit & Sadbuja

That Raj Band & the Kaibelya Dancers

Bharatanatyam by
Pooja Nathawat

Belly Dance by
Jacqui Lalita

Satsang & Songs by Sadhvi Veragi

Songs of the Divine Mother by Prema Love

Fire Dance by the
Nath Siddhas

Theatre of the
Mind & Soul

Jaisalmer Puppeteers

Vishaka's Dance Troupe

Ongoing cultural performances & folk instrumentals throughout campus during festival