Diwali Healing

As I sit here typing, my left leg is supported by my travel towel which I have tied around the mosquito netting frame that lines my bed.  Unfortunately, on Tuesday I awoke to the agonizing stiffness of an infection in my left leg.  A cut that I suffered in North Goa two weeks ago decided to become a silent assassin and pounce at the most inopportune time, right in the middle of our yoga course.

So I headed to the local hospital to have it checked out and the doctor confirmed that I had a gnarly infection on the front of my left shin area, reaching down to the bone.  Being as Tuesday was Diwali, the Festival of lights and a national holiday in India, there were only a handful of nurses at the hospital and one doctor.  (I guess if someone injures themselves shooting off fireworks later that night they’re shit out of luck.)  To my dismay, the anesthesiologist was not working so they had to cut into the infection raw dog without any painkiller and they drained and cleaned the wound.  It took every fiber of my being not to emulate Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin and refrain from shouting “KELLY CLARKSON!” (or something more profane) at the top of my lungs.

With my Diwali off to a terrible start, I went back to class and listened to lectures with my leg elevated on top of a couple bolsters.  Everyone was very supportive and our good friend Susanne, a doctor from Austria, took me under her wing and has been treating me ever since.  Knowing that the holiday could only improve from here, I looked forward to the evening celebrations.

We celebrated Diwali in the shala, where a gorgeous mandala made out of flowers and surrounded by burning candles lay waiting.  After chanting a few mantras, we each placed some flowers as an offering and made a wish.  Then sweets were passed around, including a mango treat made mostly of milk that tasted like savory, fruity cheese and some flaky pastries that tasted like masala chai in cookie form.  The entire time we could here the sonic boom of fireworks followed by the dazzling display of shimmering colors lighting up the night sky.

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Diwali flower mandala.

Music then began playing through the shala speakers and everyone got up and danced around, lighting sparklers from the mandala candles and twirling them about.  I did a lame sort of pole dance, not the type anyone would want to pay for, as I was unable to put adequate weight on my left leg to bust out some moves, (and the cracked ribs prevented me from letting the worm surface).  After a few Indian songs, Deepak pulled out his Michael Jackson catalogue and we sang and danced for a half hour.  The celebration turned my day from one of pain to one of pleasure.  I found myself being unable to stop smiling seeing everyone acting so carefree and retired for the night for some much needed rest.  It’s like Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

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India from space on Diwali night.

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