February 8, 2011 – Spring Festival, a People Day Photo Shoot Along the Ganga and the Glories of Nature After the Storm
At the moment, 5:30 in the afternoon, I sit outside on my rooftop, facing the lovely green mountains across from me topped by still blue skies. I had a really fun experience along the Ganga today as you will see later in this post. The air is still comfortably warm, slightly chilly from a breeze, but too comfortable and comforting to move inside. But let’s go back to last night and begin this day at the beginning….here is what I began writing last night:
It has been thundering and lightning for the past ½ hours and now, a real rain storm has began. It is lovely to hear and I just stuck my head out the door…it is 9:30 at night…and was treated to the smell of real rain after a very long time. It is an unmistakable smell which I am sure you all know, and it is lovely. Hope it rains itself out before morning, but really happy to hear the rain while I am “snug as a bug in a rug” in my room!!. I used to be terrified of thunder and lightning, but now it is just nice to hear! And I am going to sleep with the hope of a beautiful, sunny, rain-washed, day tomorrow….
….and I was not disappointed this morning. The day dawned bright, sunny, and warm. Warmer than it has been early in the morning since I arrived. And today was a Festival celebrating the first day of Spring! Perfect timing. I had to be at my treatment at 9 am instead of the usual 11, and worried that it would be too cold to go down. But this morning at 9 was warmer than it has been at 10:30 up until now. Really lovely change.
I was finished with my treatments today by 10:30 and had the whole beautiful day ahead of me…and I was truly grateful for the opportunity to spend it walking around and taking in the beauty all around me.
The mountains were a lush green and the sky a sparkling blue. I doubt that the photos I took will do justice to the sensual beauty of the day, but they hopefully will give you some idea of how blessed I am to be here:
And then I decided, since I had the whole day free, to go spend a quiet couple of hours sitting along the ghat on the Ganga. Well, the Universe had different plans for me for this day…as it turned out to be a “people” day. I think I had more interaction today with other people than I have had since I arrived here…but it was lovely. On the way down I came across this gate
and thought it a good opportunity to show you the way all three symbols, Om, Star of David and Swastika are used frequently here for decoration. It seems incongruous to the Western eye, but remember what I’ve written about these all being ancient Vedic symbols.
I arrived at the ghat, as planned and sat quietly contemplating nothing while staring into the turquoise waters of the ganga, when all of a sudden a swarm of people came walking onto the ghat. Turns out it was a whole family unit, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, but it was a huge group.
It was only after when I thought about it, that I realized that if MY extended family, all my kids, and their kids, aunts uncles and cousins, came down together to spend a day on the ganga, it would be just as big of a “swarm” of people. The picture above is only part of the women and kids…none of the men approached to join the party and a couple of women stayed apart as well.
I was happy to see them and figured it would give me something to watch while sitting there…all these people laughing and joking and enjoying their bathing…and maybe even get some nice photos, when all of a sudden some of them approached me. They began to ask if I am also going bathing (this all without spoken language) and I hope they understood my reply that I DO bathe, but not today. And then the fun began!!
Whenever I want to photograph someone, I will always ask their permission, as many people are not willing to have their photograph taken. They usually say OK, but I sometimes get a no, so I am always careful about asking first.
Well, apparently, Indians do not feel the need to ask. Before I knew what was happening, two of the girls sat down next to me, one on either side, and a third began photographing us! And they switched places until all of them had their picture taken…and thanked me. So I asked to take their pictures, which they were happy to do as well.
Before I realized what was happening, the rest of the family saw what was going on, so for the next 15 minutes, I became the centerpiece for family vacation pictures. IT was actually fun, and funny, and silly and at some point I began to laugh, and so did they, realizing that it was silly thing to be doing, without ever having asked my permission!! And they we began talking, with one of the girls who knows a little English doing her best to translate. They were telling me who belongs to who…my son, my daughter, my sisters daughter, my husband, my sister in law, etc., etc. And then asking about me, my name, my parents name, my country etc. And then I asked where they were from, and it seems this is a whole family which came from a nearby village, about 5 hours ride, to spend the day in Rishikesh and celebrate the Spring Festival and bathe in the Ganga. They were all dressed in festive clothing and it was lovely to see them all enjoying their day out so much. And then of course, I figured, if they could take all those shots of me, I deserved my share, so asked if I could take THEIR pictures.
Well, not only did they agree, but they fought to get into the shots, making me take more and more and more, and then giggling when they saw themselves on the camera screen. All in all it was a fun hour and a half.
And then we parted ways and I went to have my lunch, in quiet. To my surprise, that was also not to be, as I heard a couple speaking Hebrew and turned around to say “hello” to them….and wound up talking with them for another hour. Lovely middle-aged people, from a town just near mine, on their first trip to India and spending a month here.
Him having a wonderful time…her barely managing not to kill him for bringing her here!!!
It also seems to be wedding season here, as everyone has weddings to attend…(that’s the reason I had to be at my treatment so early this morning…the girls had to leave early – each for a different wedding party- Devi had also been to one last night, in the rain, where she danced until 1 in the morning…I asked how people dance in the rain – she said she only went out to dance after 11 when the rain stopped, but she said the other people, mostly men, drink until they get drunk and then don’t even know it is raining and just dance – and she did a pantomime of them doing this which was very funny!! – she also said she is eating too much and “I am too much fat, but good fat, not chicken”)…
Anyway…it seems wedding parties are springing up anywhere there is an empty space and here is one I came across on my way home today…notice if you can in the pictures, the cow joining in the festivities!
And then back to my room to enjoy more lovely sunshine. A couple of people have approached me to ask if I could teach them Reiki, and I asked them to come around this evening. I have to give this some thought. I could certainly use the money but not quite sure I want this intense interruption of my panchakarma time. I’ll seen when they show up.
Right now more hawks are sailing overhead , while the rest of the birds are making a racket just before calling it a night. The sun is down, but it is still light and still warm enough to sit out here comfortably. I don’t actually see sunsets from my room, but today the mountain actually reflected the sunset if you can see it in the picture below:
And at the same time, the new moon had risen….
Life is good.
Enjoy the rest of the photos on the facebook link.