The thing that differentiates India from the rest of the world is the fact that India is a country full of seekers. Seekers who want something beyond the rat race—a life of meaning that is fuelled by faith, love and service. We seek it knowingly and unknowingly in our daily actions, in our love for spirituality and religion and culture.
And if you do consider India as the land of seekers, Rishikesh is the beating heart and soul of that world. The emerald green waters of Mother Ganga attract all sorts of seekers from different parts of the world all wanting and seeking more meaning. The little town of Rishikesh became popular in a larger circle after the famous Beatles made it their home for a long time. They even wrote a lot of their songs there.
Rishikesh is known as the Yoga capital of the world. There’s even a train running between Haridwar (gateway to Rishikesh) and Delhi called The Yoga Express.
Given the status that Rishikesh holds, it’s often the top hit on Google for the best ashram, yoga retreats, yoga teacher training courses, meditation retreats, Ayurvedic healing, reiki and energetic healing (the list goes on).
I decided I wanted to run a retreat here in Rishikesh, not only so people could immerse themselves in the ‘seeking’ ambience of the space but also to celebrate Holi. I know, you would probably think that a spiritual town like Rishikesh would celebrate Holi in a calm and quiet way but boy, are you wrong! Holi in Rishikesh is one wild party. It is probably the only time in my life where I have seen an entire town celebrate a festival—where the old and young, the able and the disabled, people of different colours, creeds and castes spontaneously join in the madness that is Holi.
I put out a poster and 20 seekers and nascent yogis joined me on a journey to the graceful and yet majestic Himalayan foothills. We landed at Dehradun airport and took a taxi to Osho’s Mikada, a beautiful little ashram/B&B run by an old couple. The ashram was on the banks of the Ganges and the couple treated us like we were family. Tea was always served with biscuits and sweets, and dinner was made with so much love—you could feel it in every morsel.
Our first day at the ashram was spent walking up to the banks of the Ganges—a 3 km walk through small villages, silky sand and overgrown trees. For most of the city folk, the 3 km felt insanely long and what made it a bit more challenging was walking on river sand. Our feet would sink in deep and make the walk a little more challenging.
After we walked for an hour, we found the cool, clean and green waters of the Ganga—she is magical. Even just dipping your feet in the water makes the mind and the spirit so much calmer. My fellow yogis jumped in without hesitating! They had earned it after their long ‘laborious walk’. Hours passed by and no one seemed to notice—the river has a way of making time, space and thoughts stop!
To be continued.