Yesterday was MahaShivaRatri, a huge day for Indians, whom make the long trip here to make the pilgrimage to the Neelgeet Shiva temple. It's a 30kilometer walk that is done by thousands of Indians; little old ladies, people missing limbs, and small two year olds- not only trekking up, but calling out the chants along the way. There are heaps of food stalls on the long way up giving free food to the hoards that pass. It's fascinating to see the Bhakti in these people and their determination. Some people come out of pure devotion, but some others (mostly young males) come for the ruckus and energy....It's a day for Marijuana. As I've said before, Rishikesh is a Holy Town...there is no drugs, no alcohol, and no meat. But alas, this is the plant of Shiva, so it's consumed- most often as a "Bang Lassi" that's made with the herb, cashews, dates, cardamom, and more. When you drink it it looks like a green smoothie, and tastes like a healthy one as well. I had two lassis, compliments of Deepak @ Ganesha cafe, the only "breaking of the cleanse" that I've done in these ten days. Drugs really aren't my thing, and I've never taken a liking to marijuana...but as I like to say, "When in Rome...". Well, my body is so Yang right now (Yin foods are fatty, comforting foods) so i actually wasnt too stoned! I think that the Yang part of my body was more powerful than the lassi, because I only felt a slight body high (the subtlety of which I was grateful for). After sipping lassi's on Ganeshas rooftop we cruised around town (Rory, Vivek and his lady love, Keiko and Fraiser) to witness the mayhem. Then we had a beautiful swim in the Ganges, the cold water giving us that jolt that we needed to come out of our bang-lassi-haze.
At night I headed to Sequioas for a Shiva meditation/sound evening. I love chanting, I love meditation, I love singing and I love 'spirituality', but I have discovered here in India that these are very personal things for me. And at the moment, they are things that I don't enjoy doing or sharing with others. So add onto that the fact that I was a touch high, only to get super stoned as we passed around the "sacred herb" (I always decline in these situations, but last night I felt it an obligation). After the 'sacred herb' was passed around, the question was brought up : "What does Shiva mean to YOU?". We went around the small circle and I just kept hoping that they would forget that I was there and would skip over me. Well, they didn't. And after a really long awkward pause I spouted out something while really thinking "Im so stoned, I'm so tired, and I don't know what the freaking fack I think about Shiva". Everyone gave these deep poetic discourses on what shiva meant to them, one person even cried...and that just made me even more insecure because I don't have a relationship with "Shiva" at the moment. So now the question really is, "What does Shiva mean to me?" I'll get back to you with that later this week....when I'm not Stoney-baloney....
The whole sound/meditation/shiva shibang ended super late and I have never been so grateful for my bed. Every day has held a lesson here for me, even if the lesson is about what I'm *not* interested in doing....it's all a blessing.