Our day started with a lovely breakfast at Ananda before heading out on the bus to the Glass House on the Ganges. We were honored to experience a Ganga Puga, which is a sacred ritual to ask the river for purification and protection. The spiritual leader offered each of us a sacred thread to wear around our wrist as a symbol of protection and a way to commemorate the moment. We enjoyed a cup of tea in the Glass House and then headed out to visit a water project funded through Earth Month candle proceeds.
The water project was in a small village outside Rishikesh and was funded by Save the Childhood Foundation – the organization we met on our first day. The project is being done at a school of over 100 children that previously needed to haul their own drinking water on a 1.2 mile walk to their remote school at the base of a rocky path.
They now have a 2,000 liter water tank fed by a small stream up the mountain. Another tank and toilets will be installed so that the school has sanitation and the kitchen has water available for cooking and cleaning. In these small remote villages water is power, so it’s actually a very delicate endeavor to support a water project like this. For this reason, we were not able to take pictures and don’t have any photos to share at this time, but expect to have some at a later date to show everyone this wonderful project. The project is so new, that today was actually the first day the children enjoyed clean water from the new water tank.
The group was overjoyed to see these children’s happy faces. They greeted us by saying “Good Morning teacher” and smiling in a sort of bashful manner. These children had rarely, if ever seen foreigners so the chance to visit them was truly a privilege for us. It was such a wonderful opportunity to see firsthand the results of Earth Month and a Greengrants/Save the Childhood Foundation project.
Next we headed back to the Glass House for a beautiful lunch and sweeping views of the Ganges. Some from our group even took a cleansing dip in the river after lunch. What an experience to see our group immerse themselves in what the Hindu religion considers the holiest of rivers.
On the way back to Ananda we got a dose of the quintessential Indian experience. We were held up in traffic for over an hour due to a landslide on the mountain. We watched and waited as cars lined up and crews shoveled away the fallen debris. The group remained in good spirits, making jokes and feeling as though an incident like this only makes our India experience more authentic. According to Tom Petrillo, “we’re a bus full of flexible people.”
With our idle time we had an imprompu Ayurvedic nutrition lesson with Marc on the bus which was enjoyed by all.
Today was the most important day of our trip and the reason we came to India. We were able to see a water project that resulted from Aveda’s Earth Month fundraising and the dedication of our trip winners. The children’s faces made everything worthwhile – even a landslide couldn’t crush all the joy we were filled with from this day.
*Technology is not being our friend tonight and is not allowing us to upload photos. We’ll try to post them tomorrow and cross our fingers that our internet connection is better!