For those of you watching the news at home, Northern India continues to be affected by the aftermath of a massive flood that happened last week. Many people are still stranded as neighbouring communities have started initiatives to aid Uttarakhand.
While on a road trip through a few parts of India, I recently found myself in Rishikesh. It’s a place unlike anything anyone could ever imagine. Nestled inside the foothills of the Himalayas this place is seen to be the world’s capital of yoga. Fortunately, Rishikesh was not washed out by the floods.
I found myself driving into an Ashram. After disembarking, the rains disappeared and the entire place was lit up with sunlight, almost sparkling with its beauty. You could feel the spirituality of the place – breath it into yourself and feel completely full. My brief time with Swami Ji was like a dream. Thousands of butterflies blanketed the mountain and monkeys lined the roads the whole way- playfully jumping around. Regardless what religion someone might be, there is always room to feel the powers of all faiths. Overlooking the Ganges, I prepared to leave the Ashram and visit one of the relief camps in the city.
Unfortunately I would miss the evening Aarti, (which is apparently the site of one’s life to see) so I will need to come back here one day. The Aarti happens along the Ganga river. The Ganga starts in the western Himalayas and flows into Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal. It is the second largest river in the world with over 400 million people that live in its basin.
Most importantly, the Ganga is extremely sacred for those of Hindu faith, often referred to as ‘mother’ or as the goddess ‘Ganga’. Sadly, the river is extremely polluted, thus affecting the animal life that lives in the river, and affecting the safety of the water itself. People bathe in the waters and place flowers and petals into the water to see them float away. Cremated bodies are also spread to return to the river.
I was touched by how those that I met in Rishikesh spoke with such love of their river and their home. Everyone there seemed to be affected by this same feeling of ease and emotion that I could never properly explain. Upon departure, I looked out the plane and devoured the beautiful view that was Rishikesh.