This year was one of the biggest groups, a total of 15 people participated, three had to leave early and three joined late so we were 12 at any one time. As usual we had a polluted start in Delhi and as soon as we had all arrived we went to the clean and peaceful town of Fishlike. That is.. the town which is at one side of the Ganges is neither clean nor peaceful but the other side, where all the ashrams are is very nice.
We stayed again in the beautiful ashram Paramath Niketan, one of the biggest and kind enough to accommodate us and leave us free to do our own practices. Every evening we joined the Arati, a colorful ceremony of offering to the river Ganges. Lots of beautiful devotional songs and offerings of ghee to the fire to purify. I don’t really subscribe to the effectiveness of burning ghee to purify one self but the event has a sweet devotional feel to it, the ghee may not do much but certainly the surrender and devotion are.
First outing to visit a temple up in the hills. It’s a nice way to get a good view around and a good test to see peoples fitness for the 10 day trek at the end of the tour. I was surely not yet fit enough…. All my muscles complained! Only two reached the temple… but it was the journey not the goal that mattered.
Now I think this was one of the highlights for most. Traveling for a day and a half on Camel back through the desert. These animals are really something special! And naturally sitting up so high gives a very different look on life. Staying the night in the desert and doing meditation between the sand dunes was an other experience. In the end our butts got a bit sore but two of the camels were pulling carts on which we could sit.
Agra and the Tajmahal were actually not planned for the tour but as everyone wanted to see and it was on the way…
For me it’s hard to describe all the events as they are similar each year. For me the group dynamics are most important. To see how everyone on the tour grows. And naturally also for me how each tour has helped me to grow. Still every year there are new things that stand out and which I like to write a bit about. For more detailed story you’d have to ask those who did the tour first time…
In Bodhgaya we did our morning meditation in the compound where the Bodhi tree is (where the Buddha got enlightenment) We chanted kiirtan for maybe 20 minutes and did meditation for half hour. The nice thing was that so many of the Buddhist monks and other pilgrims came looked and enjoyed the spiritual vibration. We were a bit shy as it’s more a Buddhist site and didn’t want to intrude… but the opposite was true, they really enjoyed it!
After three years we could again go to Ananda Nagar to celebrate the new year. Maybe 20,000 margiis from all over India (and few from other countries) were there. Lot’s of inspiring programs and long kiirtans. Didi Ananda Devapriya arranged for us to sit with a few senior Dada’s to share their experiences with our Guru. It was really nice and one of the Dada’s even spoke English that we all could understand 🙂 The Indian English is not really that easy to follow if not accustomed to it. We also toured the area and saw few of the many projects. One I was really interested to see was the musical college that was designed by Iishiiká one volunteer architect. It was such a challenge to introduce the new concepts especially as she was a woman. But in the end the local laborers and crafts people respected her and I am very sure they are proud of the building.
At the DMS time one Dada insisted that I should sell my camera to him as he needed it for his project and the price in India was much higher… Well, he also helped us with the program so I thought enough of our group also have camera’s and I went ahead. So the rest of the photo’s is all by others, I trust you don’t mind 🙂 Now back in the US I got a new camera, the Nikon S10, it’s nice and I hope the photo’s will also be nice. Next Newsletter you can judge.
And, also after three years, we could again go to Nepal and do the 10 day trek in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas. This is always a beautiful ending of the tour. Nepal is still not quite stable but safe enough. Still there were many strikes and road blocks that almost caused some of the group to miss their flights… All made it.
(#) Photo by Liilá – (*) Photo by Radiká – (+) Photo by Asiimá