Did I go from being a neurotic worrier to a goddess radiating mega-rays of tranquillity in a few short weeks? Sorry, but this ain’t no fairy tale. The sad truth is that I was born with a depressive gene: to see a glass as half-full instead of half-empty can still often be for me a true labor of Hercules. But by putting a positive spin on my life, my fears shrank, my vision cleared, and I could move forward with increasing confidence. Still, there were many times since that I found myself embroiled in situations so dark I could not find a single reason to be grateful.
One such nightmare saw me trapped me in a guesthouse in Rishikesh during the Neelkanth Mahadev temple festival that annually draws close to half a million rambunctious rural devotees down from their villages to worship Lord Shiva. The temple is surrounded by dense forest and is adjacent to the Nar-Narayan mountain ranges. Hindu myth claims it was here that Lord Shiva consumed the poison Halahala that originated from the ocean when the Gods and the Demons churned the deep waters in order to obtain Amrita, the nectar of immortality. To save creation, Shiva swallowed this poison, which turned his throat blue — which is why he is known as Nilkanth, literally The Blue Throated One. Continue reading