Swami Saradananda's blog

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2017 Devon Yoga Festival

Each Summer, I attend the Devon Yoga Festival, an annual, not-for-profit and non-commercial event that celebrates and embraces the holistic practices of yoga. All proceeds are donated to the charity that I support: the Ganga Prem Hospice (the unique spiritually-oriented cancer hospice) in Rishikesh, India and to the Glacier Trust (developing sustainable practices in Nepalese hill farming communities). 

The festival was created in 2011 by Duncan Hulin, founder and director of Devon School of Yoga, In response to the growing popularity of yoga. Duncan wanted to create an event that was purely about yoga, offering teachings from various traditions and styles.

This year, the weekend of 14-16 July saw the fifth annual Devon Yoga Festival take place at the Rill Estate near Buckfastleigh, an idyllic location in the west of England. Participants enjoyed comfortable (but not luxurious) accommodations, amazingly delicious vegetarian food and 3 days of inspiring yoga classes, workshops, talks, music and kirtan.

This was definitely our best year! Although the energy at the Festival is always nice, I found it to be especially joyous this year. The English summer weather was kind to us, allowing attendees to enjoy the outside lawns and woods of the 80 acre Rill Estate. 

The Festival itself raised £1,000 for Ganga Prem Hospice. April Pierrot and I ran a small stall selling handmade socks and shawls - all produced by the Kullu Valley women’s collective. This little table received an additional £191 in donations plus unbelievable sales totalling £965. This brought the total amount raised to £2,156 – when it is transferred to India, this will convert to almost 2 lakh rupees (200,000 INR).

On Saturday evening, Duncan spoke about his recent visit to the Hospice in Rishikesh. I gave a talk about the work of the Hospice that I've been involved with for almost 10 years. I reminded people how even a small donation makes so much difference in India. I also suggested to the yoga teachers in the audience that they offer a monthly ‘donation’ class. Or – ‘donate your birthday’ to the Ganga Prem Hospice in place of the unwanted gifts that people tend to receive. We managed to inspire a number of people to connect with GPH on a grass-roots level and hope that will lead to future fundraising.

The Devon Yoga Festival’s ethos of 'small is beautiful', its simplicity, along with its non-commercial and not-for-profit principles make it a unique yoga event. I look forward to attending it again next Summer.

Over the years, the Festival has raised an amazing £6,485 for the Ganga Prem Hospice.

A huge thank you to everyone that took part in the 2017 Devon Yoga Festival – and extra special blessings to the main organisers: Duncan, Jules and James for their incredible dedication!

Ganga Prem Hospice opens


On Tues, 28th February, 2017 Ganga Prem Hospice opened officially inaugurated its residential facility in Rishikesh. This joyous event is the culmination of a 10 year dream - inspired by Nani Ma and Dr A.K. Dewan.

Situated at Village Gohri Maphi, in Raiwala area of Rishikesh, the building's East Wing has thirty-four rooms, and will be able to serve 15 terminally ill in-patients.

With around ninety people - staff, volunteers, donors, supporters and friends - in attendance on a spring Tuesday forenoon, the ceremony was small and warm as Hospice building construction sponsors - two well-respected public sector companies in India - inaugurated their respective floors of the building. Everybody was happy to hear from them about how they were knowledgeable about the concept and need of hospice care, and promised to continue their support to GPH. 

We cannot thank our volunteers and supporters enough, who drove to Rishikesh from as far as Delhi, and others who were visiting Rishikesh from different countries. They cheerfully worked long hours setting things in order for the inauguration day. Even our doctors were not shy to pick up a cleaning mop or shine the glass windows. 

All guests were given a guided tour of the Hospice building, which was followed by lunch. The building will be an eco-friendly facility, with rain water harvesting, decentralised wastewater treatment system (DEWATS), solar water heating, and a construction design which maximises natural light and air circulation.

More info or on my website