Day 21 October 23rd 2014
Bodhgaya, Bihar India to Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh India
Long 7 hour drive again today this time from Bodhgaya to our final destination, Varanasi. On the way, there was a massive traffic jam that was caused by an election campaign in one of the villages we passed. Luckily our driver was able to detour in time.
We got to Varanasi, and went straight to Saranth to see the old ruins and stupa on the site where Buddha gave his first dharma talk (dharma wheel first lesson). There we had a lovely meditation under the shade of trees with a kind breeze to keep us at peace. On the site grounds, there is a deer sanctuary. It’s such a small space to them. The sanctuary is there as a reminder of the fact that in Buddha’s time, there was a massive forest behind the site where deer where known to inhabit. It’s sad that now the sanctuary is there just to remind people of the forest that was once present.
After that we went to the museum in Sarnath, saw the Ashoka pilar with the dharma wheel and lions on it. We took a rest break and had fresh juice and coffee from a local street vendor, then made our way to the Sarnath temple (that might not actually be its name but close enough). The temple was lovely because we were there as the sun was setting and being Diwali, there were hundreds of butter lamps being lite on site; so pretty.
Diwali is a big festival holiday in India meant to celebrate the last harvest of the year before winter. The festival is the largest Hindu festival of the year and is as important as Christmas is to Christians. It was amazing being in India during this festival. Days before today, we started seeing people string lights on their homes and shop vendors starting to sell special Diwali treats. I loved seeing all the colors of lights and butter lamps being lite.Driving back to the hotel, Metteyya told use the story of Diwali and how it originated (see video blow).
The evening was simply spectacular. When we got back to the hotel, there was a shop in the lobby that was selling silk Indian scarves. My intent going into the shop was to see what they had…. Fifteen minutes of bargaining later I came out of the shop with 10 scarves…. Yicks! Happy Diwali to me.