Saturday March 21st, 2015
Kia received an email from Pujya Swamiji, the spiritual head of Parmath Niketan, the Ashram where the International Yoga Festival was held a couple of weeks ago. He asked to meet with all of us at some mountain, somewhere. Kia didn’t know what we were up for but she trusted it and got us all excited about it.
We did Sadhana, had breakfast and then head out on a crazy 3 hrs ride through the mountains to what I later discovered was: Devprayag.
2 buses, 1 car, 28 people, counting Kia and Tommy.
Narrow dirt roads looking down at crazy cliffs. Us, monkeys, big trucks, cows, construction’s crews… all sharing the road.
We were singing mantras for most of the way (Mostly Victoria and I)
I felt scared at times and in such state of surrender at times.There was this deep surrender to death, to life, to whatever was destined. I was feeling in a state of bliss that was unfamiliar to me. The kind of bliss that is not concerned with situations or outcomes.
The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra came to me silently in my mind at this time:
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
May he severe our bondage of Samsara (worldly life), like a cucumber(severed from the bondage of its creeper) and thus liberate us from the fear of Death, by making us realize that we are never separated from our Immortal Nature.
The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is one among the finest Mantra’s in Indian mythology and spirituality belongs to Lord Shiva.It is a combination of three hindi language words i.e. “Maha” which means Great , “Mrityun” means Death and “Jaya” means Victory.
A small suspended bridge connects the prayag to the river bank where the dirt road is situated. You have to walk a few hundred meters down the hill, in a narrow lane through a market, to reach the prayag.
On the way there, we stopped by a school, which I think is Swamiji’s contribution, it seemed like.
The term prayag stands for ‘Holy Confluence’ in the Sanskrit language. Devprayag is one of the five holy confluences as per religious scriptures. It is the most important of all prayags; where rivers Bhagirathi, Alaknanda & the mythological river Saraswati (flowing underground) meet to form Ganga.It is built in many levels to accommodate different water levels during the monsoon (rainy season).
Today is the first day of the “Navrati” Hindu celebration. “Navrati” means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit. It is festival that honors the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. It’s a festival full of worship and dance.The beginning of this Festival also marks the start of the new year as per the Hindu mythological lunar calendar.
Standing on the calm side (Ida lunar Nadi) looking down at the new river, the union: The Ganga.
A sadhu approached me and anointed me with some red powder in my third eye and asked if I wanted to do a Puja. I agreed. I was fascinated that he asked me for my husband’s name, my father’s name and my mother’s name. All were included on this Puja / Worship. Sweet!
With our beloved teacher, Kia Miller.
After getting blessed by the sacred waters, we all walked together to a temple up the hill. There, we performed a New Year ritual and prayer. We were given a bit of water in our hands to drink and blessed our insides (although most of us didn’t drink and instead touched our hearts with it) – understandable. We were anointed by this really watery turmeric color paste, all over our forehead.. It felt cooling, a bit messy… and beautiful. We were there for it all.
The buses were magically arranged to met us at the top of the hill for our next unknown adventure: The Navrati Festival.
There we were welcome with flower garlands, music and dance!
We walked through the Main Stage and sat in a special private spot in the back. There we were greeted with an amazing lunch.
After the wonderful meal, we were asked to go on stage and dance! I didn’t know what to think.. we all walked towards the front of the stage and finally sat to enjoy some performance/dance and some ritual by Swamiji. He is an advocate and an educator for proper hygiene/recycling/progressive thinking in India. What I understood was that we were shown as leaders in that area. Someone to look up to.. or something like that.
Anyways, it doesn’t really matter. It’s all a story.. It was like a dream. Sometimes I felt awkward but mostly blissful. I couldn’t believe we were there!. The colors!!! the joy! the village people.. dancing, celebrating the Mother! Wow! Wahe Guru!
It was all very quick and in a blink of an eye, we were walking out through the crowd. Villagers were surrounding us because they wanted to take pictures with us…
Stopped for some Chai and a gorgeous view – Courtesy of Swamiji
Then riding back home for almost 4 hrs, go to sleep and wake up to another adventure tomorrow..
International Water Day Celebration!