India: mosquitoes, yoga and Christmas lights

It’s Boxing Day in Canada and I’m hiding under my mosquito net to read.  The mosquitoes are at their worst at dusk and I’m tired of getting bitten.  Malaria is not on my Christmas wish list.

Today, instead of my usual tradition of navigating the sales at the Rideau Mall in Ottawa with my sister, I’m living the yogi life at an ashram in Kerala, India.  I’ve traded snow, ice and shopping for jungle sounds, humidity and mosquitoes.  Instead of Christmas songs playing incessantly in the mall, I have Sanskrit chants playing incessantly in my head.  It’s been 10 days and they are very catchy.  Whoever wrote them could have had a career in advertising jingles.

Christmas here has been surreal.  The ashram is fully decorated with blinking lights – including the dancing Siva altar – and there is a big Christmas tree. Carols were sung, cake was eaten and firecrackers were set off.  With my Dad here, we managed a mid-day gift exchange with a snack of fruits, dates and cinnamon cookies amidst yoga and meditation classes.

With Christmas now over, Boxing Day is just another day in India and it’s almost time for evening group chanting.

Repeat after me: Om shanti shanti shanti.

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