Tag Archives: Kumbha Mela

The Vegetarian Professional Jet-Setter Strikes again…

24 Sep

I’m here!!! I’m here!!! I have not fallen off the face of the Earth!!!

The first part of 2013 has been incredible to me… I had the chance to visit so many places – India, Panama, Peru, Miami… those you already knew about. But I just got back from a trip to Spain doing the Camino de Santiago and a week in Paris. Collectively, I think in the first 8 months of 2013, I’ve only been in Puerto Rico for about 3 months total. I told ya once… be careful what you wish for, because just like the Daughtry song says, “you just might get it all… and then some you don’t want”.

Travel 2013 Collage

I have been craving some normalcy… some time at home, by myself to write and share with you all the wonderful experiences I’ve had. But doing 3 spiritual trips in less than 6 months takes a toll on you. My mind has not been in the writing mode. That’s why I’ve been kinda quiet lately. If you follow me on Facebook, at least you’ve gotten a chance to check out some of KarmaFree’s recipes from our archives… But my spiritual guru told me it would be like this for a little while. Trying to get a grasp of normalcy while all the experiences and blessings of all these spiritual trips actually sink in.  Please bear with me…

I’ve already shared with you some things about Peru – what to buy when you visit and my experience drinking Coca Tea in Cusco. I’ve also shared some of the experiences in India – about sugar-coated fennel seeds or the many ways Indians eat their lentils. But I have not had the chance to tell you about the awesome natural treatments we did in Panama, some of the great vegetarian restaurants we went in Peru or some of the delicious recipes I learned while in India. Let me tell you… I got sweets you will looooooooove!!!! You’ll hear about the experience and the recipes in the weeks to come.

Panama Collage

 

You’ll also learn about my experience of walking the Camino de Santiago or St. James Way… If you’ve seen the movie The Way with Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen, you know what I am talking about. This was my 3rd trip to Spain and I keep learning so much and discovering this country’s gastronomy has to offer. I will also try to show you how I handled walking 114kms in 5 days on a vegetarian diet!!!

España Trip Collage 2

And Paris!!!! My lovely, lovely Paris!! If I was in Spain, how could I not hop over to visit my beloved Paris?? This time around I went by myself and got to eat and experience some of my old favorites, but also got a taste of some new things I have been meaning to try… like those lovely falafels at L’As du Falafel that everyone raves so much about.

Paris Trip Collage

Thanks for sticking around… thanks for being patient with me. I promise I had all you guys on my mind wherever I was… India, Paris, Spain, Miami, Panama, Peru and even here in my lovely kitchen in Puerto Rico. I will try to make you all feel like you were all there with me…

Bon virtual voyage!!!! Bon Appetit!!!

Advertisements

Warming up and cooling off on the streets of India…

19 Apr

After visiting India the last time in April, we swore never again to visit when the weather has started to warm up. This time around we visited India from end of February to mid-March and it was super fun weather-wise because we had a whole range of temperatures in the different cities we visited.

In Allahabad, just like in a desert, it was chilly in the mornings and evenings and warm during the day… chilly enough to wear fleece!!! But in the south of India, the weather was warm and tropical, just like being in Puerto Rico. We even got to take paddle boarding lessons from some new Hawaiian friends , Tim and Kenny,  in our hotel pool!!!

Weather Collage

With all these weather changes, sometimes we had to warm up ourselves from the inside out… and sometimes we had to cool ourselves down the best way we know how…

To warm up… what better way than chai masala!!! I’ve already shared mu love for chai masala. Ever since I tasted it for the first time in Varanasi, I’ve been a true fan. I was fascinated with how in every stop, every city, and every back alley we visited someone was making chai masala for people to buy. And according to Tim and Kenny, who became somewhat of connoisseurs in chai masala tasting, the best chai’s come from the streets!!!! And in my experience… also the best chai masala’s are served in clay cups – the ones you use once and break after drinking your serving… I wish I had more pictures of all the times we had chai on this trip.

Chai Masala Collage

??????????

To cool off… we drank lots of coconut water right from the coconut itself!! Just like we do in Puerto Rico!! Some coconuts were sweeter than others, but it is way better to drink coconut water than any other packaged juice. It’s like nature’s Gatorade. We drank these coconuts while in Rameshwaram, almost at the tipy-tip of India, right in front of Sri Lanka. The perfect treat after visiting temples…

Agua de Coco India 5

???????????????????????????????

Down in Pondicherry, the heat felt like the middle of summer in the Caribbean!!! Sweat was rolling down our backs… if you know what I mean. The best way to cool off the “Indian way” is enjoying a cool, delicious kulfi. I had the chance to taste kulfi once while in Varanasi, but I did not know the name then. Kulfi is a milk-based frozen dessert usually flavored with saffron, cardamom and pistachios. They sell them in ice cream stands and it’s the perfect treat when you need something cold and creamy. My friend Fabiola was fascinated with kulfi… I think we have another convert here!!!!

Kulfi Collage

I searched the internet and I found a few kulfi recipes… here is one I will be trying to make real soon. Hope you like it too!!!

What’s your favorite way to warm-up or cool-down? Any other ideas?

Prasad… Blessed food from God

15 Apr

I just came back from my 4th trip to India…

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook got a little glimpse of my trip thru the pics I posted as I went along – We started in Allahabad to attend the Maha Kumbha Mela. Then on to Varanasi, the most ancient city in the world. Both of these cities are located in the banks of the River Ganges. Then, went for the first time to the South of India and to finish off, upwards onto Rishikesh, the city of ashrams and yoga education.

Viaje India Collage

It was a very significant and magnificent trip in so many ways I can’t express into words. To be in the presence of so many saints who have achieved spiritual enlightenment, is a blessed experience to say the least. I have a spiritual guru… so we visit India not in search of anything, really… but more to witness how so many people dedicate themselves to a spiritual path and to give a little bit of ourselves to Mother India.

I practice yoga… not Hinduism. I want to make that clear. And something I always identified with Yoga is that it’s a non-denominational philosophy. You do not need to believe in anything specific to practice yoga conscientiously. Spirituality comes from God. Religion comes from Men. But Yoga and Hinduism stem from the same origin, so when you visit India as a yogi, we indeed spend a great deal of time visiting Hindu temples.

??????????

In India, people offer their respect to God, the Supreme Being, in the form of fruits, flowers and other edible goods. People have this idea that in India people revere many gods. Which is a way, it’s true, because these deities all have different names and are represented by different images. But as I’ve come to learn is that these are just manifestations and representations of THE one and only energy that is our very essence. In our limited relative world vision is difficult for people to imagine an all-mighty, all-powerful, all-encompassing being that has no form or image. So to facilitate devotional needs, people gave mortal qualities to these deities so people can “wrap their head” around the power of that what we can’t see but can certainly feel.

43 - DSCN7132

People treat the deities as if they were people too!! Very important and powerful beings at that… but deities in temples they get washed, cleansed, dressed, adorned and even fed on a daily basis. When a temple is erected, priests perform certain ceremonies and sing sacred mantras where images of the different deities acquire the qualities and characteristics of that deity. And from then on, that image is no longer a piece of stone; it now becomes a sacred physical representation of the Supreme Being on Earth.

It is once said that the more fruit a tree bears, it vows lower to the Earth… I hope I am making that phrase justice with my translation. Basically meaning that the more we have, the more we need to be appreciative and of service to others. So we in Yoga show our respect and appreciation at temples and at the presence of saints by offering fruits and flowers. After these offerings are received by the priests in the temples or the saints themselves, these goods are blessed and immediately they become PRASAD. Prasad is something – fruit, vegetable, flower, candy, anything… – that has been blessed by a priest or saint.

We received lots of Prasad on his trip… Prasad is sacred. Prasad should never be rejected and should always be eaten if it’s edible. Here are a few examples of the Prasad we were given:

My mom eating some sweet Prasad at Kalyani Mata camp in Kumbha Mela

MataJi Prasad Collage

Chai Masala and Rice with Lentils served to us by Devraha Hans Baba

Prasad Collage 1

Bananas, Water and other candies and crackers at an ashram in Allahabad

Allahabad Ashram Prasad

Gulab Jamun in a sweet syrup at Satwa Baba’s Ashram in Varanasi

Satwa Baba Prasad Collage

Bananas and Flowers from various temples in the south of India

??????????

At the Yoga Center I attend, we also have Prasad… Every time we cook any food at the center, before anyone gets a taste of it, we offer a serving of it to the Supreme Being. It’s like we’re serving the first plate to God. This way, the food we prepared is blessed and carries a very special positive energy. That special first serving we then try to divide it among all the guests that day so they can have a little morsel from “the God’s special serving”.

You can too adopt this same practice in your own home… you can either offer a little sampler plate of food to God before serving the rest of the family, or when eating out you can mentally offer your plate to God. Kinda like saying grace in your own head. Doing this will add a positive blessed energy to your food.

I’ve shared pics from my second and third trips already, just in case you’re interested.

%d bloggers like this: