Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A beautiful closing to an incredible experience

This trip would deserve a blog all to itself! One must not die without spending a few days in an Ashram in Rishikesh! So I've changed my earlier statement! Quiz time... which blog was this and and which place was I referring to?!!!

A picture is worth a thousand words... so, lots of pictures will be posted on FaceBook once I get back in Indore. I have been here two days after Kahlil and Laurence's departure. This was truly a divine inspiration to come here! It has been so invigorating, the prayers, the chanting, the look on the children's faces, the lighting ceremony called Ganga Aarati (musical offerings to the Mother Ganga, every evening from 5:30 to 6:30), the 4 PM and 5 AM yoga classes (notice how this one comes last?!!)! All have contributed in making this the best way for me to close this incredible journey.

Rishikesh is located at the foot of the Himalayas, some 200 miles North East of Delhi (Note it took he driver who took me here 7 hours and 40 minutes to drive this distance!... don't ask, the cows, goats, dogs, trucks... :-) In a brochure I saw, he state of Uttarakhand is described as he "Land of Celestial Beauty" and I tell you it deserves its name! The calm serenity of the majestic Himalayas everywhere you turn is breathtaking. And the Ganga, this forceful flowing river that seems to draw all life around it is to be reckoned with. When I think the discussion we have, Dannie and I about the Haitian Mass at Christ the King that lasts too long ONCE a week on Sunday and here daily, 365 days a week all along the river life stops for an hour and a half ceremony called an "aarti". In all temples along the river, at the same instant, as the sun sets, this spectacular musical ceremony is performed. Offerings of lamps and flowers are made to the river immediately following this ceremony and it is a moving sight to watch hundreds of miniature lamps float along the river. As promised in the beginning, pictures will follow once I am back in Indore. The Ganga is one of the 6 lacks of gods in India. They call it "Mother Ganga" and nothing is done here without the blessing of the Mother! All the shop keepers have their little reserved container to get some of the water to bless their stands of fruits (guavas!), artisanats of the region, sarees, shawls all throughout the day (what I like best is when they sprinkle some on their cash drawers!)
Life at the ashram. Very quiet! Wake up at 5 AM :-( for yoga, meditation and prayers till 7 AM. Breakfast at 8. Free till 1 PM. I walk a lot, come to the Internet cafe, have a cappuccino (no such thing as a good espresso coffee!) here and there, find a spot by the river, in a sunny spot (it is freezing here!) sit, sleep, read... Back to he ashram around 1. Lunch. Then back to yoga and prayer at 4 until 5:30, when everyone goes to the river for the aarti till 7. Then dinner till 8, and the day is over.
Yesterday was different for Christmas Eve. A new post will come tomorrow or later about his.

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