So this is now my tenth day in India and I’m only just getting round to writing this blog. It’s been a whirlwind so far that began with Utsava Maa (celebration of the Great Mother), a seven day festival at Shri Jasnath Asan (Ashram), that brought women together from around the world to create a community exploring how to improve equal rights and environmental preservation. The three key themes were creativity, ecology and divinity.
A packed programme was offered that included screening of films and documentaries, made by women, raising awareness of the destruction of our planet and the impact on indigenous people and the oppression of women especially in India. The work of Disha Arora was both eye opening and shocking and I can highly recommend that you look out for her documentaries on ‘Women and Religion in India’ (https://youtu.be/h1ou29YBp5M) and also ‘Women and Caste in India’.
I attended workshops that included living from enchantment not fear with renowned author Liz Gilbert (https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/bio/), creative portrait writing with Nanda Huneman (https://nandahuneman.nl/), various creative activities by a group of wonderful artists, called Undergrowth Collective (https://www.undergrowthcollective.com/) based in London and an introduction to the Enneagram with the vibrant Shannon Nicole Bob (https://www.enneagram-experience.com/). I got to run some TRE workshops too which was a huge privilege.
There were many talks and performances all serving to inspire and embolden women to take environmental and social action within their local and global communities, no matter what their background, age, or story.
I met so many inspiring women dedicating their lives to alleviate the suffering of others and one lady in particular stood out for me. Her name is Urmi Basu and with parents that were both activists it’s not surprising that she has spent her entire life actively supporting other women in her home city of Kolkata. 20 years ago she set up New Light, (http://www.newlightindia.org) a non profit organisation that provides the children of sex workers in Kolkata a safe haven, particularly in the evening hours when streets are the most dangerous and the mothers are working. I was fortunate to spend some time with Urmi and Laura who is volunteering at New Light and to share the practice of TRE with them. They kindly invited me to visit them in Kolkata and run some TRE workshops, so I’ll be heading there in the next few months.
It’s been a perfect start to my travels being amongst a community of like minded, inspirational women and staying in an eco friendly and spiritual environment that takes loving care of the earth and its inhabitants. It feels like I’ve slipped into a warm loving cocoon of support, vibrant energy, encouragement and adventure that has held me when feeling ill and when the tears have flowed. So I plan to stay here until either I meet up with friends early February to do a tour of Rajasthan or I get itchy feet. For now it’s a beautiful base to let things settle and from which to explore the locality. Talking of which I’m off to explore Jodhpur tomorrow for a few days, meeting up up with some Utsava Maa buddies and visiting a school for less abled children run by a lady called Sneh Gupta (http://indiability.org/).
So much more to tell but it’ll have to wait but before I head off the title of this blog is the strapline for the ashram which I love and am doing my best to embody! So wishing you much laughter and playfulness in your life and don’t forget to keep taking the meditation 😀.
Sending much love and all good wishes for the new decade – go well lovely people ❤