SpiritFarmer


India Journal – Central India
July 22, 2008, 11:55 am
Filed under: India

About a week and a half into our time in India, we boarded a train for a 13 hour overnight trip to central India.  We were in one of the nicer trains – air conditioned, 0621081637 sleeper cars.  The train cars have multiple sleeper sections, which are shared by eight or nine people – each with it’s own “bed.”  Gettin’ cozy with strangers!  But having seen the second class cars (no AC, and a heckuva lot cozier with a LOT more strangers), we were quite content with our travel accommodations.  The picture to the train station – masses of people crashed out everywhere, waiting to get on board the packed trains.

We got off the train in a city called Indore.  Pretty big town, but nothing compared to Delhi.  We were there to participate in a two-day seminar for Dalits and OBCs (see my previous post on caste if you don’t know what those terms mean).  Our train had arrived late, so we were a bit late arriving at the seminar.  When we got there, Sunil said to me, “O.k., so we’re going to start the afternoon part of the seminar now, and you’re on.”  Awesome!!  Time for a little improv!  I’m sorry, the holy man in meant to write, “Time to let the Spirit lead.”

This part of the trip was good in some ways and uncomfortable in other ways.  Good in the sense that prior to that point, we had mainly been learning, experiencing, soaking things in, but not really doing anything in terms of giving ourselves away to others or blessing them.  It was good to be of some service to people.  It was uncomfortable in a couple ways.  First, I have some really mixed feelings about being brought in front of anyone to speak or whatever, for the sole reason that I’m white or American or whatever – I had to deal with the fact that whether I’m comfortable with it or not, it is a big deal to people there that we know about the issues they face and that we care about them.  We sat at a table in front of a room full of beautiful people (men sitting on one side of the room, and women on the other).  It was also uncomfortable in the sense that a couple of our team members are pretty introverted, and having to speak to a room full of people doesn’t exactly come naturally to them.  We did our best, and hopefully were and encouragement to people who need to experience real freedom from caste and oppression.

On day two of the seminar, other than once again sitting at a table in front of the audience, we didn’t have a big role until the end.  As things were coming to a close, Sunil talked the people through coconut communion, and then offered it to the people.  Once again, it was a powerful experience. 

After this, Sunil invited several men and women – all Dalits or OBCs to come to the front of the room and be seated in chairs. Our team had the honor of washing their feet.  As we poured water over them and rubbed their feet to clean them, we were able to speak blessings into their lives and share our love for them.  For some of them, it was a shocking, difficult experience – they’ve been well trained by Brahmanism to know that washing feet is their job, and certainly nothing to even be fathomed as for them, particularly if performed by someone “above” them.  A couple of them really resisted, and were in disbelief.  Tears flowed.

It was amazing to see the difference in peoples’ demeanor toward us from before the foot washing to afterwards.  Before, they would look at us curiously, but for the most part, not approach us.  Afterwards, we were swarmed with requests for handshakes and pictures.  The warmth and hospitality of these people cannot be overstated.

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