Okay and there you are. All alone on the other side of the world, having absolutely no clue how this mother of spirituality and country of thousand colors works. And upon that, you felt this crazy deep calling to be in an ashram, in my case the Puttaparthi ashram, the home base of laten Sai Baba. And yes we all know it, India is one of a kind. But believe me, you don’t have the slightest idea of this world of crazy difference unless you experience it yourself. It’s chaotic, busy, dirty, dusty and boiling at the same time.
And then there is this strict ashram code which is, upon the unwritten Indian rules of conduct, a whole other story. Because of the fact that I was denied at the temple, got dress critics over and over again and by the end of my stay I finally understood the ticketing after Darshan, I’ve decided to write this precaution manual for a more enjoyable stay in Indian ashram. So let’s go!
- Always dress properly which means; a skirt or trousers with no bare legs or ankles, a shirt or blouse with armpits covered and a shawl hiding your decollete. Knowing that the average temperature in India is 30+ your heat boundaries will be uplifted.
- The average ashram runs a certain program. Make sure you´ll be informed about this program. The Puttaparthi ashram for example starts at 5.00 with a singing round around the mandir (temple) to continue at 8.00 with the veda’s followed by the darshans to repeat this whole story again at 4.30. Good to know is that it’s appropriate to attend darshan once a day.
- Seva, which means selfless service, is a way for people in the ashram to show their gratitude for the guru and it’s ashram. Normally the price of food and rooms are incredibly cheap (1 euro a day), so it’s beautiful and well valued if you do something in return.
- Change might be that opening hours of shops and stores are extremely clumsy. So make sure that you’ll know the timeframes in order to have your needs in time.
- Which brings me smoothly to my next point; the gents / ladies restrictions which my emancipated heart needed to absorb for a few days. Not only the rows and temple are divided in two, also the opening hours are on adjusted times for only men and women.
- Because there are a lot of people eating, showering and drinking in the ashram, water is always a problem which might occur in an waterstop at a certain moment. Make sure you always have a bucket of water in your room.
- And also electricity is not a certain good here in India, nor in the ashram. In order to find your way in the dark, make sure you’ve got yourself a flashlight and spare (phone) battery.
- Even though prices are relatively low, you will need money in order to pay for those lovely samosa’s and creamy lassi’s. Where we are using cards continuously, an ashram most likely won’t provide that service, in other words: make sure you have enough cash money (so you’re safe also when ATM’s fail).
- ‘Sai Ram’ is the golden line and is used for almost everything; hi, how are you, I’m sorry, thank you, I love you and so on and on. For me it’s a way of sharing respect.
- If the ashram is your first stay in India, be easy with the food. For example, start with one Indian dish a day to see how your body is responding on this new flavors and hygiene standard.