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HOLY COW ! North India .. jai ma durga !

It took me 13 years from my first visit to India to get to the north of the country and to Ma Ganga. I’d been longing to get but never it seemed the right time as I was busy studying and travelling the South to study with my teacher. In 2019 I finally took the plunge and organised a group to the holy places of the north. We weren’t disappointed. We bathed in the Ganga, spent a day at the largest festival in the world Kumbla Mehla, attended the International Yoga Festival, admired and cried as we saw the beautiful Taj Mahal which I had yearned to see for so long having grown up admiring my parents black and whites of her that they took during their travels.

In Hardiwar i met these two amazing women, who like me share their home for the purposes of teaching Yoga and Ayurveda. They showered us with flowers (literally) shared their love of Āyurvedic cooking, we met a Jyotish who recommended stones malas to support our vedic astrology chart.

This beautiful home will be base when we take a deep dive into Goddess energy in my retreat this October 2023. This traditional home is set in quiet residential area lined with older buildings and Boganvillias flowering over the gates. It is a short stroll to Ma Ganga where an evening Aarti service takes place (ghee lamp ceremony). It’s a beautiful place to sit and contemplate, enjoy some conversations with curious locals and watch the holy river flow. During our retreat we will practise yoga on the rooftop overlooking the holy city. Haridwar is often called the gateway to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of the 'Char Dhams' and attracts a huge number of tourists due to its amazing mountains, rivers and ancient temples. Propitiously located at the point where the Ganges River emerges from the Himalaya, Haridwar (also called Hardwar) is Uttarakhand’s holiest Hindu city, and pilgrims arrive here in droves to bathe in the fast-flowing Ganges. Masses of people frequent Haridwar every year to pay their respects to the holy river Ganga. The bustling lanes of Haridwar will have you roaming for a long time because there’s a unique sight to see at every corner of the town.

“We are so fortunate to learn the ancient sciences by living and it is our passion to share the benefit of the healthy practices we grew up with.” Seema Agarwai

Our host is in Haridwar are Seema Agarwal is the daughter of Shri Harish who was considered one of the most highly respected spiritual teachers of India in contemporary times. Harish Johari also known as Dada, was a noted scholar adept in Ayurveda, paintings, sculptures, numerology, yoga and cakras. He has authored more than thirty books on diverse subjects. He used to give lectures on Hindu philosophy, Āyurveda and Tantra. His Guru was Swamiji Narayan Rishi from whom he learnt the art of linking the whole eco-system that surrounds us. He was a true believer that knowledge grows by sharing and we get to know what we don’t know when knowledge changes hands. His students continue his lineage and work all over the world and India including the Johari House in Haridwar, the gateway to Rishikesh. Seema and her daughter Anushree have made it their life's work to honour their creative and spiritual ancestry by hosting Spiritual vacation’s in India and abroad. They are from the family that holds the tradition of the teachings of Harish Johari they didn’t learn them through lectures or books ,they learned them by being with him in his presence and we live them every day !!!

Seema Johari is leading Spiritual Vacation a travel company she founded in 2000. Seema is a qualified trainer by experience through the first hand learning she got from Harish Johari Seema is a Masters in Philosophy and Bachelors in Human Psychology. Her quality of empathy and balance ensures that the retreats and workshops she conducts are of utmost quality. She is an expert in Āyurveda, chanting, Nav Graha, Numerology, Gods and Goddesses and healthy cooking. Anushree the granddaughter of Harish Johari is a determined and inspiring lady who believes in excelling in the tasks that she takes up for herself Anushree's canvas is most definitely the kitchen; the spice cabinet her palette. She mastered the art of cooking at a tender age of nine. She understands the benefits of Indian cooking for human body through ideal use of spices in various cuisines.

Our retreat takes place at the auspicious time of Navarātrī. Navarātrī is a nine night, ten day festival in honour of the divine feminine. We will celebrate Durga’s victory over evil. This will infuse our retreat with prayers, puja (fire ceremonies) stories and mantra. We will observe the food rituals traditionally a time of feasting. A ghee lamp is installed in the home and is kept lit for the nine nights to symbolise the universe and the uninterrupted light of the divine feminine, Durga Devi. We will be immersed in the culture, celebration and enjoy cultivating and experiencing the Shakti energy that celebrating the divine feminine brings. We will reflect on the symbolic nature of this festival enquiring into the nature of our Dharma and the divine feminine. We will do this through the full spectrum of rituals and practices and by learning specific mantras to connect us to Durga energy of strength, resilience, fearlessness

"When called upon, Goddess Durga will lead us through situations that feel insurmountable. It is no wonder one of the meanings of Her name is fortress. Durga reminds us of the fortress we each carry within ourselves and can feel as a support when we need to fortify our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual boundaries. She will show us how to work with whatever we are facing from a place of protection, equilibrium and trust. Durga has been described as the center within the storm. As all the challenges and chaos spin around us, She can help us to find a place of refuge and stillness from which we can act more consciously and compassionately. In this world where so much injustice and destruction prevails, we need Durga more than ever." Laura Amazzone

I do hope you'll join me !

With palms together,


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