Parting is such sweet sorrow
After three beautiful, fun-filled, relaxing days at Sri Ram Ashram, sadly it was time to leave. However, in true Sri Ram Ashram style, there was no leaving without first having a party! They take their parties seriously; they have a permanent outdoor stage, lights, microphones, loud music, dinner, and ice cream!
The kids, of all ages, performed choreographed dances for us. They blew me away. The amazing thing about music and dance is that it always seems to bring people together. Joy took the wheel when we danced together, and love radiated through our songs. We performed a Bollywood dance that the kids taught us. We ended up performing two encores because the crowd kept cheering us on. When we started the last encore, they all came up and danced with us. I picked up a little girl named Ambika; she was quiet and shy at first but then her sweet heart and sassy attitude poked through, and I ended up dancing with her in my arms for the rest of the night.
Ambika was abandoned as a baby; when she was found, her condition was critical and life-threatening. But this little girl, and every single kid on that stage with us, despite the horrific things they’ve been through, chose to dance, laugh, enjoy life, and show my class and me unconditional love. I looked at Ambika, smiling with her hands up, bouncing in my arms, and enjoying the music. Watching her, I had so much gratitude toward Sri Ram Ashram for giving this precious girl and all these amazing children a chance at life, a home, and most importantly, a place where love, playing, and partying comes first.
Last night I experienced one of the greatest parties of my life. When SN told us that the Sri Ram Ashram kids knew how to party, I never imagined their parties would be so legendary. The night started off with some of the smaller children performing a Bollywood dance. I noticed how invested they were in the dances and how talented they were.
Half way through the performances, our class was called up to perform two songs we had been practicing. The first song was a Hindu song called Danava Bhanjana. We chose this song as a way to connect to the Hindu culture, and the people at the ashram. The other song was a reggae song called One Day which had a positive message about stopping hate and war around the world. Personally, I was nervous about the Hindu song and I really wanted the people at the ashram to enjoy it. After finishing the songs and walking down from the stage, we were greeted with smiling faces and shouts of, “good job” from all the children and adults. Their responses brought me a sense of relief.
After a couple more wonderful dances from the ashram kids, it was again our turn to share our talents; this time we would be dancing. Since our arrival at the ashram, I had found a new passion for dancing. Each day, we had dance practice with the ashram children. They taught us a Bollywood style dance. We worked very hard to learn the dance and I was thrilled to get the chance to perform it for them. As soon as the dance begun, I looked down to see if the children were enjoying it and all I could see were wide smiles. This gave me a burst of energy and I was inspired to give my absolute best for these children. When we finished, the crowd began to cheer “Once more,” repeatedly, until we finally agreed to perform again. The same cycle repeated after we finished the dance and again we were forced to dance our hearts out, but the third performance was different. When we reached the middle of the song, everyone ran up on stage and began dancing with us. The warmth this brought to my heart was overwhelming. All I wanted to do was enjoy each moment with these wonderful kids.
Sri Ram Ashram holds something very special in the core of its establishment and inside all its people. Getting the opportunity to spend a few days there, in all its wonderment, was amazing and filled me with joy. The kids there were kind and compassionate towards us from the second we arrived. They wanted to know all about us, and invited us to play with them, constantly. They brought out the inner child in all of us, and that was a wonderful thing to witness. It allowed the group to just let go, be free, and have fun.
I learned so much from the kids at Sri Ram Ashram. They were extremely talented and passionate, and they are bold in being their authentic selves. That is something I don’t usually get to see, and I found it very inspiring. We connected with all of them so easily, either through play, dancing, our meals together, or on the fun adventures we went on during our stay.
In the Hindu faith, there is an Aarti ritual, in which light is offered to the deities. Each morning and evening, the whole community fills a prayer room and participates in this daily ritual of singing, praying, and music. We were encouraged to join them each night; the kids would join up with all of us and help us sing the songs, and explain the ceremony. I was struck by how devoted these children are to the Hindu faith, and how their dedication allows for compassion and connection among themselves, as well as people outside their community.
During these few days, I really got to see firsthand the impact that Babi Hari Dass has had across the world. I have grown up around the Mount Madonna community, and I experienced and witnessed what he has done for us in the United States. However, to see his impact on the Sri Ram Ashram community was different, and exceptional. The spirit of Babaji absolutely lives on in each one of these children; their respectful and compassionate nature, their sharp and unique characters, and their love for play, all thrive at the core. I was able to find a new appreciation for Baba Hari Dass and for the countless opportunities he has provided for kids all around the world. I appreciate how he has inspired so many individuals, and helped shape several communities.
Our last night at the ashram was one of the happiest moments of my life. I learned that no one parties harder than the Sri Ram Ashram kids.