India – In the sacred waters of the Ganges, Rishikesh

Bathing in Ganga during Holi Festival, Rishikesh

I had not considered staying long in Rishikesh. Just a few days before returning to Jaisalmer for a birthday party. But because life as always knows how to amaze me I found myself spending more than two weeks. I had heard a lot about Rishikesh, always very well, so he was really excited to go there. I also hoped that the weather was a bit milder in these parts having left Dharamsala because of the harsh temperatures and my cough that did not seem to diminish. Instead, when I arrived, spring seemed still far away, but when I arrived at the station I was ready to enjoy a very good chai in the company of another traveler. Good vibes! The journey from McLeod Ganji to Rishikesh had been anything but simple. Arrived by bus in Dharamsala, there seemed to be no direct solutions to Rishikesh by bus, but only minivans at costs more than doubled.

Asking for help from some people, a woman controller, and other young people, I had come to the conclusion that I would have to change more buses to get to my destination, all in the evening/night. Fortunately, the people I met were very helpful and kind and so I went up on the first bus, trusting that the information given to me was correct. After about half an hour’s journey, I arrived at a station, where once the baggage had been recovered, I went down and quickly went to another bus that was almost at the start. After a journey of several hours I arrived in Haridwar and from there another gentleman found in the street helped me get on another bus to Rishikesh. Obviously, when you find yourself in situations where it would be convenient for you to find a foreigner, it is then that you will not meet anyone.

So it is easy to understand how I could be happy and relieved to enjoy an excellent chai at the station of Rishikesh in the company of a foreigner with whom I could exchange a few words.

Returning to Rishikesh, this place is famous because it is recognized as the worldwide homeland of yoga, here young and old from all over the world come here to become qualified as yoga teachers or simply to practice it. But here we also come to practice meditation or live “extrasensory” experiences, as every self-respecting sacred city is really usual and normal to make use of cannabis, this is said, to help the meditative experience. The city also became famous because the Beatles spent several months here in meditative retreat and it is here that they conceived one of their most famous albums.

Unfortunately, as often happens, the profane follows the sacred, in this case, the god of money. To make a long story short, as the Indians realized the Westerners’ interest in yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic practices, etc., they did their best to offer courses of all kinds to profusion. Rishikesh is nicknamed by some local elders with the name “Reach the cash”, a play on words that denotes the city’s current approach, ready to market.

Beyond the commercial aspect of the city, Rishikesh remains a special place, a place where walking along the street it is possible not only to smell fragrant incense but also to listen to Tibetan / new age music. In which you can take long walks along the river, stop to watch sunrises and sunsets, religious ceremonies on the ghats, go trekking, and immerse yourself in the waters of its sacred river.

In this medium-sized city, despite the number of tourists and traffic, there is a placid and peaceful atmosphere, not at all chaotic.

Here you will find signs/advertisements for yoga** classes, reiki, Ayurvedic medicine, meetings with real gurus and not, very religious/spiritual music shops, clothing for yoga/meditation, etc. **If you want to find your perfect yoga mats go on this page: https://www.reviews.com/best-yoga-mat/

Following the meeting with an Italian girl who was living in Rishikesh to teach yoga, I began to participate in the Satsang* of a Brazilian guru, Prem Baba and to participate in the activities of the ashram that hosted her meetings. I then tried different types of meditation, (Sounds meditation, gong meditation) and different types of yoga of different levels. I also decided to take an intensive Ayurvedic massage course.

One of the most beautiful days spent in Rishikesh was that of the Holi Festival, this year I decided that I would not have celebrated in the streets of the city, and instead after a restful sleep, unexpectedly I had changed my mind. And so I found myself once again throwing colored powder on people but above all to be covered with a thousand colors from head to toe. This city, also Holi, ie sacred, has revealed a suitable place for these celebrations, especially as a woman. In fact, there have been no episodes of boys or men who took advantage of Holi to hug a little ‘too warmly.

The party in the streets of the city was a lot of fun, we danced Indian music surrounded by young people, children, Indian and foreign men, and women in a beautiful party atmosphere!

But even more beautiful was to immerse me in the waters of the Gange river…

I had already decided to do it, but for one reason or another, I had not yet done it… But if it is true that the things that are best are those that happen suddenly, those unplanned, that was also my case. Covered as I was in color, I persuaded my friends to go along the river and enjoy that beautiful spring day. Some people were already in the water and they took little to convince me to do the same.

Tradition wants us to be immersed three times to purify our karma. And so, too, I had purified mine, at that moment I was symbolically cleaning my spirit and so I would try to do with a much more difficult process during my Vipassana course.

Shortly after coming out of the water Prem Baba arrived with his disciples and he immersed himself first and then all the others in an explosion of joy, joy and widespread happiness.

I will never forget that day, that feeling of peace that afternoon on the banks of the river Ganges, surrounded by a crowd of people, with their smiling faces, which conveyed pure joy and positive energy. That day of spring was nothing short of regenerating, and it was a beautiful conclusion of my time spent in Rishikesh because in a few days I would have left the city and the country to my next destination, Nepal.

*The term Satsang literally means “association with the sages”. It is used in the Hindu religion to define a meeting of people who, through dialogue, listening, reflection and meditation, aim to achieve the reality, the truth.

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