A group of 12 women, not all friends, but fastly becoming so, from Australia travelled to India to experience yoga, spirituality and culture. We loved it, were all deeply moved by it and affected by it, for ever.
These photos depict only a small part of our journey, but one still so clear in my mind. A little village called Vrindavan, it is said to be where Krishna spent his childhood, a holy town.
We were blessed as we sat at the river. We couldn’t understand a word he said as he anointed us all with mud and a red smudge on our foreheads, but it was special. Then it was somewhat funny at the end when he asked for a donation for the ceremony he just provided for us. Money well donated.
This little holy village is also known as the shelter city for widows. In Hindu tradition, widows may not remarry. We were to walk the streets to meet these magnificent, but forgotten women. We went armed with small gifts and small denominations of Indian rupee to give. This was soul crushing for me. Actually a lot of India was soul crushing, yet I still found a lot of beauty there.
The walk around this little village was hard, also scary at times. We started at a quieter side, my heart opened as the widows started walking towards us. I was not prepared for what was to come. They are mostly older, but they can be young, very young, not yet teenagers sadly.
We were all giving, hugging, taking photos and talking, not Hindu, not English, but that universal language of no words needed, the eyes and actions speak a thousand words.
Then the crowd grew, and it grew, they descended upon us like bees to honey. Grabbing at us, taking all we had, till there was nothing left to give. Some got angry when we had nothing left, some were thankful for what they received, some were grateful even though they received nothing, grateful that strangers had come to offer help anyway. I walked away eyes downcast this day. How could I help? What can we do? We 12 women. Not a lot more than what we did. They are fed by the town, given a few coins, but hope for the kindness and donations of visitors.
Vrindavan also home to FFLV (Food for Life Vrindavan) For every 100 girls in rural India only a one finishes school. A lot are lost to Child Marriage. FFLV aims to keep the girls in school until she is 18 to prevent early marriage. A wonderful organization dependent on donations and sponsorships.
We were most fortunate to visit this school that educates these poor girls who live in or around Vrindavan. What a day, what an experience. What divine young girls they were. We watched them in the classes, we watched them dance and they invited us to participate in this dance with them, we presented them with awards and the best part, we all sponsored a child.
India was an experience and journey I will never forget. After leaving Vrindavan, our next stop was the Taj Mahal. Once I set my eyes upon this magnificence, I cried, it was surreal. It was grand, opulent and beautiful. It was an unforgettable moment.
That was over 3 years ago. This was a small part of the experience I had in India. I could write so much more about that wonderful, colorful, heart breaking country, what I learned, what I took away with me on a soul level and most of all, the people I met. Those people are forever etched into my heart.