Last week, Stephanie and I went to scout out yoga classes on the other side of the bridge. As we fought off the hoards of little children begging for rupees, we climbed the hill through the market area and came across a young man dressed in a white robe. Without a common language between us, we shared smiles, and somehow ended up accompanying him to his harmonium lesson at the Sivananda ashram. We were welcomed by the long bearded, orange robed, swami-ji, took a seat, and were given tin cups of hot chai. We listened and bopped along to the 7 or so harmonium and tabla musicians in training.
(The harmonium is a portable keyboard/accordian. Tabla are a set of hand drums)
Two friendly sisters, Neeti and Neha, sat across from us, introduced themselves, and answered our harmonium and tabla questions. They were originally from Bihar, but moved to Rishikesh to open a music ashram. At the end of the lesson, we found ourselves in a tuk-tuk with them to go see the construction of thier ashram.
We were told their sister, Devi Bhojpuri, is a famous singer of Bihar and Jharkhand. http://devismelody.weebly.com/ The music ashram is going to be a place to celebrate life with music, dance and meditation. Devi's Music Ahsram will arrange many events such as musical concerts, dance performances, kirtan, painting and photography exhibits, book fairs, daily yoga and meditation, music and dance classes, and more.
Neeti invited us to the opening and blessing of the ashram. How could we say no?!??!
We arrived the morning of the 22nd and were soon whisked away in chanting, prayers, singing, dancing, and more. A man came to give official blessings to the ashram. They set up pictures of dieties, offered fruit, money, flowers, and incense. Everything received a bindhi (red dot).... the bananas, the money, the paintings, and even us.
Towards the end of the 2 hour blessing, they passed out Indian sweets and fruit, and then danced and sang the afternoon away.
The music ashram is now officially open, but the scheduled meditation, music, and yoga is set to start in February 2011. ;-)