Week 3 - India - The Colour of Love


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Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Tiruvannamalai
December 13th 2009
Published: December 13th 2009
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It came to me as I began to write this week’s blog that if I am going to provide a fair description of this amazing country and the experience of being here, I need to share in equal measure the good and the bad. Some of you may wonder why I am drawn to this country and this weeks blog will a look at the India that Lucas and I see. The India that is both on the surface and below the surface. The India that stays hidden from western eyes and the western mind. The India that you will see when you see it with your heart.

It came to me as I walked around Mt. Arunachula that the India I see is an India seeped in love. The very act of circumambulation of Arunachula, Pradakshina, is a walking meditation as prescribed by the great sages of India, The experience itself, is one of being in the heart, rather than the mind. So what I share today is coming from that heart…. The very core of being.

The other day I saw a young mother squatting on the roadside. She had two small children with her. A baby
PradakshinaPradakshinaPradakshina

The inner path
sat quietly at her side and in front of her a young boy, perhaps two or three stood patiently as she methodically looked for nits and lice in his hair. The woman and her two children, likely lived in the shack she squatted in front of. No running water, no electricity and not even a real door on her home. As I watched her administer to her children, I was so moved by the simplicity of the act. I was transported to years ago when my boys were young and I did the same thing, picked lice and nits from their hair. Now, I had a washing machine, lice treatments and the benefit of a television to entertain the boys as they sat for hours in front of me. I was in awe of this beautiful being, who despite having nothing by western standards, loved her children with such devotion. I saw too how little separated she and I. Two mothers, just loving and caring for our children with all that we had to offer.

We are blessed with many good friends here in India, but one family stands out for us. They are Panneer and Sujata (Suji) and
PradakshinaPradakshinaPradakshina

Lucas on Pradakshina, circumambulation of Mt. Arunachula
their children, Bria, Lakshmi and Goapa. Last Sunday we were invited to their home for lunch. Panneer met us on the main road on his motorbike and guided us to the village, they call home. On the way to the village we stopped at multiple temples or shrines. Panneer shared with us the story of each one. The temples are erected to the Gods as protection and the Goddesses to ensure good fortune. Each temple is resurrected with such love. Some were built more than two hundred years ago and other’s very recently by the people of the village. It struck both Lucas and I the depth of the devotion that permeates the landscape in India. These villagers, who struggle daily with poverty, will build a temple first and then feed themselves second because of their devotion to the Gods. This devotion shows up in the men who carried 66lbs of ghee (oil) up the mountain daily to keep the Deepam flame lit for the 11 days of Deepam, This devotion is demonstrated by the people who climb the 2680 ft of jagged rock, heated by the hot Indian sun, to the top of the mountain in bare feet, This
200 Year Old Shrina200 Year Old Shrina200 Year Old Shrina

To the Gods for Protection
devotion is felt everywhere in the holy city of Tiruvannamalai and colors the whole landscape with love.

But back to Suji and Panneer….. As usual they welcomed us into their home and showed us with obvious pride the changes they have made since our last visit. They have rebuilt their home, since we last saw it 3 years ago and it now includes some western conveniences that are rare in this area. It is simple and clean and so filled with love. One of the biggest improvements was a second bedroom where the children can sleep. When we met them three years ago, the whole family slept in one room on one bed. The truth is they still do. When the house was first finished they tried to sleep in separate rooms but before long they realized that they missed the comfort of the family’s presence. And they all moved into one room.

Our day in their home was spent enjoying Suji’s wonderful cooking, reliving the blessing of Bria’s recent wedding and sharing pictures of our home and family in Canada. As the day came to a close we acknowledged the connection between our families and despite the
Panneer and CherylPanneer and CherylPanneer and Cheryl

At the Village temple for the Goddesses
years since our last visit and the miles that separate, we are one family, connected at the heart.

And then there was our visit to the Arunachula Village School. Arunachula Village School was created to serve the poorest of the poor in this area. Every year they receive more than 400 applications for 30 places in the school. When we entered the facility I was struck by two things. The first was of course the fresh, innocent, beautiful faces of the children who attend this school. They range from Kindergarten to grade five. Their beautiful smiles, light up their faces and we were swept away by them. The second thing I noticed was a small sign that hangs in every classroom. I found out later from the School ‘s Chief Administrator, that these are the guiding principles of the school. The sign read:

Love each other
Help each other
Respect each other

The Chief Administrator shared with us that he felt as though he had the best job in the world. The very principles that are the basis of the schools teaching were the basis of his upbringing. “I am privileged to be able to share these
Our Indian FamilyOur Indian FamilyOur Indian Family

Panneer, Suji and the whole gang!
principles that my parents shared with me, with all these children. I am also privileged to bare witness to the transformation that is beginning to take shape in these children’s lives as they carry these principles outside of the school.”

India reveals story after story, that touches the heart. Everyday we see the love revealed in the faces of the children as they grin and wave “hello” to us on the streets. I see the love in the shy smiles of the women as they glance back at me as if to greet me and say “Welcome, sister!” Love reveals itself in the Sadhus, (Holy Ones) and beggars who have a hand out one minute and then will greet you the next with the blessing Namaste’ (I see the Self in you that is the Self in me) The power of love is revealed in the tenacity and determination of the people of India, to rise above their circumstances through spiritual devotion and hard work.

We are both so grateful for the destiny that has led us to this place, our second home. We are grateful for the awakening that has resulted and has manifested in so many
A Little Bit of HeavenA Little Bit of HeavenA Little Bit of Heaven

I am not sure who had the bigger smile! Cheryl or the Children
ways. We are grateful to see the world with our hearts and to know from that seeing what is truly of value. We are so blessed to be welcomed into the heart of India, so that we know with certainty that there is only one. That there is no other. All that separates us as human beings is a veil of illusion…..a thought.

Nandri (thank you), mother India.

Until next time.

Namaste’

From the one and from all of us in India

Lucas and Cheryl



Additional photos below
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Lucas and CherylLucas and Cheryl
Lucas and Cheryl

Surrounded by love!
Chief Administrator and the AHAM FamilyChief Administrator and the AHAM Family
Chief Administrator and the AHAM Family

At the Arunachula Village School
Cleaning the CottageCleaning the Cottage
Cleaning the Cottage

Cheryl at work in India


13th December 2009

Feeling your love and sending some back :)
Hello Cheryl and Lucas! Firstly, thank you for inviting me to your wonderful travel site, I truly feel blessed to take part in your journey. I have never been to India and have always been interested in learning more about their culture. I have been to Indian weddings and events in Canada, and have always been struck with the beauty of their rituals. Thank you again for allowing me this first hand window of love. :) ... Your pictures and stories are amazing, and I love to make a cup of tea and just drift off to India with you. Take care...sending you warm wishes and bear hugs across the miles. Love Cheryl xoxo :)
18th December 2009

Your gift to us
Cheryl, what a gift it is to all of us who get to read about your journey and live vicariously through you... I am so grateful to be included on your blog so I too can understand your journey and India better. Thank you... Merry Christmas to you and Lucas, you are living life and love to its fullest thats for sure - thanks for including me in this fullfillment.
18th December 2009

Thanks for your comments
We were just saying how much you would love it here! So good to hear from you. So put India on your radar my friend. You would fit right in!
18th December 2009

Next time a cup of Chai tea!!
So good to hear from you and thanks for the comment.... Next time a cup of Chai tea and you will be able to taste India
18th December 2009

You are my favourite Aunt!
But don't tell all my other Aunts! Glad you are enjoying the blog! Love to Ron and Elaine all the way from India

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