I can hardly wait to share my mesmerising meeting with the Sadhus yesterday at the Ardh Kumbh mela in Allahabad. Here is what I wrote, and here are the pictures I painted.....
"It seems all too familiar, this sea of humanity at the confluence of three rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. It all started with a beautiful dream last night of rock cut temple ruins and intricate sculptures of elephants on the rocks when one of them came to life and climbed the hills on two legs. The monkey which was on the elephant's back, jumped so high that I thought that it was a flying monkey.
It was one of those magical mystical mornings when I woke up, where everything was shrouded in mist. After my morning's ablutions I proceeded to take a bus to Allahabad. There was an excited anticipation that I hadn't felt in a long time. Along the way I passed five camels and an elephant which I thought was a good sign, and arrived here by 9:30 am. I have wandered for a bit, felt the power of this place, placed my palm on the thigh of an elephant, walked through able and disabled people, vendors, sellers, lepers and beggars, and now I am on the boat to take a dip at 12 noon at the merging of these rivers.....the Sangam.
I have just spent the most bewitching afternoon with the Babas. So wonderfully hospitable and kind. I painted while they patiently posed. they offered food and brought me fresh peas to eat. It was perfect after a long stroll under the mid day sun. What beautiful eyes! I watched Vipin Das ji apply markings all over this body, I watched the sharing of food, the eloquent way cotton was wrapped around oneself, the sudden smiles and the peace of a lifetime. It was easy. the leaf loin cloths and the spiralling dreadlocks. I now sit at sunset on the soft white sands, on the banks of the confluence of three great rivers. And now is a time to give thanks.
I stayed the night at the Khalsa with the sadhus. They invited me for dinner, after their evenings prayer guests were served first and I received a sumptious meal of paratas and aloo subji. I talked with Triveni Daji for awhile, before I fell asleep in front of the fire amidst the sounds of blaring loudspeakers, chants, bells and the smoke from various fires in the area. I awoke a couple of times to warm myself in the glowing embers, for it was cold and the dhurrie on the cool sand on which I slept, was a comfortable bed, but the cool night air did seep in through the layers. I travelled to Allahabad with my bag, sketchbook, watercolours, shawl and two extra layers that came in handy in the evening. Someone kindly threw a blanket on my covering shawl, which added extra warmth in that calm environment.
I woke up early, meditated for a bit and proceeded back to Banaras. This journey has taught me much, meeting fellow members of our universal tribe, the benevolence exuded by them, the kindness in their hearts, the 1000's of people shuddering in the cold, the mesmerising smiles on people with gaping wounds, the longest dreadlocks I have ever seen, babas in their primal state sitting naked in front of a fire, the slow dispersion of crowds as seen from atop a mound, the moon as she grows ever so slowly. Thank You for all of this"