On the night of the Indian holiday Diwali, festival of lights, Nidhi taught me to make a Rangoli, often know as a Mandala. We drew out the lines, then sprinkled colored rice and semolina flour mixed with finely powdered dye inside the pattern to create what became a beautiful flowerlike design. We lined it with marigolds and lit candles around it that night and in the morning it was washed away, as mandalas always are, a tribute to impermanence and non-attachement.
We walked past the Chai stands and waking Sadhus in the street, down a dirt path littered with discarded things and interrupted by tiny rivers, to the gate of the Mahesh Maharishi Ashram . In 1968 The Beatles studied transcendental meditation at the ashram, bringing attention to Rishikesh from the West that would last well beyond the years of the ashram its self. It closed in 1997, and became a part of the National Park bordering Rishikesh. The many meditation pods and dormitories, as well as the personal home of Maharishi are now historical relics covered with art, vines, and lines from Beatles songs. It may be trespassing, and the threat of the guards was hot on our minds, but the place is alluring. We spent 2 early morning hours inside the overgrown walls. When I walked into the small temple with walls covered in stones from the Ganga, I felt a strange sensation travel down my spine. It wasn’t unpleasant, it just made me careful, Made me mindful amongst the splintered wood and broken glass.