Yesterday, we were thinking of going to a local waterfall but instead the falling water came to us. It rained solidly the whole day basically and most of today as well. At home in Vancouver, it rains a lot as well. However, it is often a day of overcast skies drizzle that soaks into everything with a cold dampness. With the monsoons, it rains like buckets. It’s like someone breached a flood gate and then everything pours out. In my experience of tropical rains, it usually lasts for a couple hours and then skies clear up for some sunshine.
Not in this case.
It was like buckets after buckets the whole day. Like if you went out, you are immediately soaked like you had a shower.
We were supposed to go river rafting today with the yoga school but it was cancelled due to the heavy rains and the dramatic increase in water level and ferocity of the water. The Ganges River is now a raging fury of racing water, swirling and catching everything in its path. Where there were steps before for people to go down to the water and bath, the water level is now so high, it is reaching the road. Apparently, water levels went up over 20 feet in 24 hours! It has broken an 88 year record for highest levels of rain in June.
As we watched the raging waters, we could see uprooted trees floating down the river. Kerissa and Chad, who were staying at an ashram on the river where the first floor flooded so they had to move, said that they saw unfortunate cattle and buffalo in the fast waters. Even sadder, the surrounding mountain villages have experienced landslides and have been completely cut off for two days without access for outside food. At least 50 people are reported missing and our prayers today went out to them. The Shiva statue where we all sat to watch the Ganga Aaarti and the bridge platform it was on washed away a couple hours ago. The city is currently without power and there is the drone of generators in some places and the two suspension bridges that connect us to Rishikesh City have been closed. From our yoga school, which is about 10-15 minutes walk (down the hill!) from the river, I can hear the roar of the rushing water.
Even though the river is now only a foot away from the market road, life goes on as normal in Rishikesh. The street vendors are out including the bindi paint salesman that asks me every time I pass by without fail for the last two weeks. The plums, peaches and mangoes glisten with rainwater on the fruit sellers’ carts on the side of the road.
There is even a street cart that has a little metal oven baking fresh butter cookies. Super delicious! All around the yoga school, which is up on a hill back from the river, there are sounds of children playing cricket in the nearby field and crickets themselves cricketing away. It is crazy times but the rain has stopped for now and life goes on.
There is something poignant about the Shiva statue being washed away in the holy Ganges River, which scripture says starts at Shiva’s head. Shiva being the God of Destruction reminds us that creativity and change sometimes needs endings for new beginnings to happen.