Life at the farm continues. We have finished about half our time here now, and are now looking forward to enjoying the rest of our stay. We are harvesting, threshing and preparing for the summer season everyday. We have torn down most of the vegetable gardens and are harvesting seeds from the gourds we pick. This is August and Claire pikcing out seeds to save for next season. The huge gourd you see in the pic is a bottle gourd:
Almost all the fields are plowed with the two oxes and ready for next season. Before we start planting they need to irrigate the fields a few times to make the soil soft and make the micro organisms, bugs and worms that live in the soil and gives it life, happy. We have learned how to make the most potent compost, called Vermicompost. Its made of cowdung and alot of worms. Its pure nutrition for the soil.
We also do alot of weeding now, to keep the plants that still grow, happy, like aubergine and chillis’ for example. Now we are about 18 bijaks here, more keep coming all the time, but I’ll get back to that. This is us harvesting tulsi, or holy basil. It makes for a tasty herbal tea, and are spicier than “Italian” basil.
On Wednesday the Seventh of November we celebrated Diwali here. Diwali is a celebration to honor two gods, Lakshmi and Ram. Lakshmi is the godess of wealth and Ram is a king who were exiled for 14 years to then come back and rule. So, on the 6th everyone cleans their homes and prepare flower bands to make their home inviting, because it is said that Lakshmi goes around on this day and if your home looks inviting, she will enter, thus inviting wealth into your home. They told us that the very rich people who have a safe in their home, leaves this open on Diwali, to invite more wealth.
On Diwali, the story also says that king Ram comes back from a 14 year exile in Sri Lanka, to take the throne that is rightfully his. So to welcome king Ram back, everyone lights candles to guide his path back to his kingdom. But, truth be told, Diwali is the deadline for harvesting rice, which probably is the original reason for this holiday.
But! Let’s not forget that the 7th also was August birthday!! 😀 So we had a double celebration! August got love from everyone and I think that he was happy with the day. We all made a card with greetings from everyone here for him that I presented in the morning. It was sooo many greetings and they were so long, it covered four pages ❤ Here is August at breakfast:
On Diwali, there is fatty, fried food, and we all dressed up in our nicest clothes, some of us even swayed around in beautiful saris. August helped to prepare the food, proudly and with many encouragements, he made it!
We lit lots of candles and lit firecrackers and small fire works and the athmosphere was filled with awe and respect.
Here are almost all of us in the dining hall, freezing in our fany clothes:
There were a few of the Navdanya crew here, although it is customary to go see your family at Diwali, but for some who live far away, a day or two isn’t long enough to go. So it was mostly us Bijaks, one budhist and another indian christian, so the non-hindus were in majority, but we got into the festive mood fairly easy. For me it felt like christmas with all the candles. We even got paneer for dinner! We all gathered in the dining hall, and first, we had some nice short term Bijaks from Bombay with us who said a prayer, then we sang for August then we ate. After dinner we made a bonfire and the Bombay people taught us some Bollywood dance moves! There were fireworks and music far into the night, but for once, the dogs were quiet.
The day after this main celebration, we celebrated the cows. Being here, I finally understand why the cows are holy in Hindu tradition; they produce the milk which makes gee (clarified butter), cream, curd (which they make paneer out of). With cowdung you can make biogas, build houses and fertilize the ground. With cow urine you can make natural pesticides as well as different types of liquid compost, the oxes plow the fields and carry your wagons. So to honour these amazing creatures, we participated in making luxury foods for the cows, with rice and other crops, tumeric, sweets, and flowers.
We fed these to the cows and they put a mixture of tumeric and other healing herbs on the cows and put mustard oil on their horns. This is a calf, only 1 week old, with a pretty flowerband.
Now we have been to the city of Rishikesh twice. Its the place where the Beatles went and wrote most of their White album. Now it’s a hub for spiritual seekers, yogis and other drifters. To us, it seams like alot of young and old people go there, and forget about the surrounding world. Time stands still in Rishikesh, there are ALOT of white people and everyone speaks english; it’s also an India light in a way. Streets are safe and alcohol and meat are forbidden, since the Ganga river flows through the city. We havent gone swimming in it yet, even though I feel like its the best place to do it, since Rishikesh is closer to the source, than for example Varanasi where the river is extreamly dirty.
People lose themselves in Rishikesh and alot of the time we ask ourselves: Where are the parents?! Most resturants are multi cuisine with italian, american and other western foods as well as several German bakeries. One gets the best of both worlds in Rishikesh, but be careful; it is like Hotel California: you can check out any time you like but you can never leave… Now that we have set the premis for Rishikesh, I must say, it’s quite nice.
Both times we have stayed in a hostel called Wayfarers Hostel, next to the Lily resort. There, somehow, we already know people because its where the Navdanya people go when they are done at Navdanya. Both times we walked up and down one small street, with whops lining the way all the way to the river. The first time we went to Rishikesh was with the first group of people we were here with, the people I have written about in an earlier post. This time we walked to a waterfall which was beautiful. I lived up to the expectations put on us as swedes, and swimmed in the river 😉
We sat and ate for hours the first time, we ate so long that we missed the last bus back to Dehradun and had to take a taxi. Here is Magdalena and Shannon in the Shambala Café.
Magdalena and Woitek and Kathrin has left us to go on exploring, and they left me, August and Shannon in charge. Except for us, Anandi has been here the longest (like 3 months). For the last three weeks, people have come and gone and stayed for 2 days, a week or 10 days. It difficult to deal with this changing group, but I’ll get back to that in a minute. This time when we went to Rishikesh, we went with Gillian for the UK/ South Africa, Claire from France and Anandi from Gaiana (next to Barbaidos) and Shannon. Gillian and Claire has been with us for a long time now, and we have all become good friends. Here are some pics from this weekend:
While in Rishikesh, we are walking to get breakfast when we hear a scream from across the street, and there we see our Yoga teacher from the town we used to live in Sweden. Sophie stands across the road, spending only one day in Rishikesh and by some miracle its the SAME day as we are there! We have spoken alot about her and her yoga teaching style and how we miss it, even though we are in the birthplace of Yoga. And there she is!!!!
This was an amazing moment and it makes us both almost crazy happy. We jumped around for the rest of the day, and I take it as some sort of sign. We have actually spoken about her with Claire and Gillian and Shannon so when we met we could just say, there she is!!! Now we hope Sophie is home in Växjö practicing yoga with our friends and former collegues and spreading her sunshine all over the place. Check out her Facebook page Shining Swan Yoga.
This time we cought the bus out of Rishikesh and was home at Navdanya before 9 pm. Here in India, one must find a person who speaks some english and knows what is going on, otherwise you will never get anywhere.
When we came back to Navdanya there were 6 or seven new people here. Before we were 6 people, the first 10 days, and now we are 18 people. Its hard, to all the time repeat conversations of where are you from, what do you do, where are you going…. And then when you finally had a few days and gotten to know some people, they leave. Now we have another five people here that will stay for more than two weeks which is good, because then I feel like we can spend some time to build a friendship. Some people it just happens automatically with, which makes it even harder to part! We have been here a month only and we are already veterans. Its draining to build up relationships, and for August which has a sensetivity to energies and to spending his own energy its quite exhausting. Our Coordinators, Anougrah and Drona, have such a hard job, being close but keeping the distance all the time to all these interesting people who pass their little oasis here in the Doon valley. Although I feel like we have friends in them now. They are constant people here in our lives, just like Shannon, which is comforting. This is Drona and Anou btw:
But we have fun. We support eachother, as soon as someone has experienced the Hello Goodbye life we are on the same page, and it doesnt require many days. I was afraid that groups will take shape and that people will be left out, but it’s not like that. We are all friends, but ofcourse some hang together tighter than others, but no one is alone here against their will.
So amongst those who have become our friends so far apart from the people I mention above, there is Esther from France, Tatiana from Russia/US and Sofia from Germany. Since this new group of people just arrived I am sure more people will fill up this list.
This coming weekend we hope to go party OR go hiking, either way, it’ll be fun.
The nights are very cold now, and before the sun rises the fog lies thick over the valley. August has been sick in bed today, living on Oral Rehydration Salts and bananas.
We are on Instagram @Odysseyofswedes, here I update more frequently. The internet here is not reliable so its not too often. If you have any questions about our life here or about the farm or Navdanya as a movement, please tell us! My mom has tons of questions which makes it easier to organise these posts 🙂
Lots of Love
August & Linnea