When you stay at an ashram, you meet very interesting people.
During mealtimes, we couldn't help but notice a huge group of people dressed in all white warming their hands over their food and swatting at it like there were swarms of flies hovering above it.
We later found out that they were an Australian group who came to Rishikesh on a retreat with their guru Shakti Durga. We spoke to a few of the crystal wearing, white robed Australians, and found out they were having a public satsang later in the week. Stephanie and I HAD to go to see what they were all about.
They opened their public satsang with a yoga performance by some local youth. I'm all about yoga, but when you see 5 - 9 year olds contorting their bodies in bizarre formations for our pleasure... it kind of makes you feel a bit awkard. They then sang, and chanted. This was followed by an enchanting sitar player.
After a short break their guru, Shaki Durga, came to the stage and gave her messages of peace for the world. She encouraged us to open our hearts and see the divine inside. She said once you raise your own vibrations you will find the passion in your heart. Then, came time for the singing, music, and chanting. Shakti Durga said: "We've been united in many past lives together.... so we've been practicing this for a loooooooooooong time."
We joined their satsang openly.... trying not to judge. I honestly did feel amazing vibrations during their singing, music, and chanting... but was it because it was spiritual??? or was it just because it was great music??? Probably the latter.
Then it was time for blessings. The crowd gathered in a line to head to the front to receive blessings. We watched as people laid down on the ground at the guru's feet as she raised a hand up to the sky and swooped it to their forehead. Others in their group were coughing like crazy (we were later told they were coughing because their throat chakra had become unblocked. weird.) Stephanie and I gave each other that "what in the world are we doing here" look... but decided to give it a go anyways...
It was my first experience being blessed... and was quite bizarre. Stephanie was matched with the guru, and I with her "beloved" Shiva something something. (They all greet you with their "spiritual" names...) I kneeled there for what seemed to be ages. Maybe he knew I needed extra help with this whole spiritual heart opening thing. ;-)
The next evening at the internet cafe, a woman approached me and asked if I had received a blessing from "Shiva blah blah"... she then told me it was one of the most beautiful blessings she has seen. Whoa. Bizarre.
We were glad we went to experience what a guru gathering was all about... but it was definitely not for us.
If you want to read more on Shakti Durga and her Harmony Center Foundation... the website is: