Today is Diwali, one of the most important religious festivals in Hinduism. Diwali, the festival of lights, symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Also today, November 4 2021, I woke up to an acceptance email to study again with my teacher in February 2022.
Deeply grateful and overly excited I am sitting here on a cold, rainy November day, reminiscing of my past travels in India. This country holds a special place in my heart since many years. I remember already as a child I was very drawn to India and its culture. I knew nothing about yoga then, no one in my family had visited India, I just knew that one day I would go there.
And then I went for the first time in 2017 and returned every year ever since until the pandemic hit.
But where is all this love coming from?
It is of course the yoga, our community, the feeling of belonging, of being connected by our common love. It is the comfort that comes from not having to explain myself for changing my whole life and priorities to be able to keep learning and to teach.
But my love for India goes beyong yoga.
It is my first chai once I arrive in Mysore, sitting on the steps opposite the Ganesha temple, watching the beautiful parade of life unfolding before my eyes.
It is waking up before dawn, feeling an immense energy and drive to cease the day.
It is all the sunrises and sunsets watched from rooftops, feeling lucky and humbled at the same time.
It is feeding the cows and baby goats the rest of my coconuts after practice.
It is eating the delicious South Indian food with my hands and realizing that whatever we call “Indian” in our western world is way too far from the real deal.
It is the afternoons spent by the local temples, watching women in beautiful sarees bring colorful offerings to one of their numerous Gods.
It is the mandalas painted on house entrances, the religious festivals, Maha Shivaratri, Holi, Diwali. It is the chanting echoeing in my ears still today.
It is the 1000 steps I climb on almost every Sunday in Mysore to watch the sunrise from Chamundi temple. Yes you can take a rickshaw but then you’re missing the whole point. It is the giant over sugary ladhu from the temple afterwards, before I head down the steps. It is the 4 dosas for breakfast at Mylari later, (if you know you know…)
It is the street markets, filling my eyes with more colors than I’ve ever seen, it is the smell of the spices, the joy of buying fresh fruits and vegetables from street vendors.
It is the incessant honking and the crowds and the beautiful chaos in Varanasi, the vibrant life in a city where people go to die.
It is holding my breath everytime I cross the street, trying to navigate my way through rickshaws, motorcycles, trucks, people, cows, goats and dogs.
It is the art of letting go, not trying to make sense out of everything, accepting that our Western rationality does not have to be the norm.
It is the people, their smiles and kindness, their generosity and hospitality reminding me of Greeks, making me feel at home.
It is the tears running down my face every time I leave, because life after India seems so dull and grey no matter where you are.
And most of all, the light, sometimes bright and blinding, sometimes foggy and mystic but always, always so special.
Happy Diwali India, soon I’m coming home.