The Pilgrim’s Dance– Jenny Batten

rickshaw goddess

1. DANCE OF ARRIVAL (January 6th 2011)

The plane landed 12.40.

The sounds and smells are indefinable even in the quiet early morning.

Arriving in India.

Waiting for our luggage – Stamped and checked

A quick escape via a pre paid taxi. The dance begins!

Excitement and anticipation.

So we thought.

The journey was taking a new turn.  Trusting a taxi driver who was finding the way.

Leading and following.

English directions were of little help.

He stopped many times seeking assistance from others – or was it reassurance!

Even the dance with the young man in the corner shop who had googlemap on his iphone couldn’t help!

A few more dancing steps and stillness.

Greeted by the Night Watchman and a lovely note of welcome from Hazel.

Some sleep surrounded by unfamiliar smells, mosquito nets and awoken by the crows.

We meet our fellow pilgrims, a time to reflect, connect and arrive.

A hand dance reflection –for safe travel, our journey and gratitude for the gifts we have received and will receive along the way.

Amazing Grace – We have arrived!

2. DANCING WITH GREEN FEATHERS (10th January 2011 after visiting a hospice in Bandra, Mumbai)

A peaceful restful place,

Clean polished floors

Open windows

A view of the sea.

Smell of fresh air

Patients lying, sitting

And gazing.

They seem to be aware of our presence.

We dance lightly for them.

They delight in green feathers.

A gift for them.

But they give to us.


A smile.



3. THE TRAVELLER’S DANCE (11th January 2011 – on our way to Dedhiapada, South Gujurat.)

The hurry and scurry of the Mumbai traffic

Rushing and passing like a fast moving dance

Rickshaws, horns and noise.

A fast energetic walk, stop, run.

A crazy dance as we rush to our destination.

Weary travelers waiting, a gentle dance.

Seeking peace, rest and stillness.

Soaking in the moment.

Enjoying the dance of contemplation.

Reaching a destination

The dance of hospitality begins.

A smile, a greeting, a garland of marigolds.

A thirst quenching drink, a hearty meal.

A warm cozy place to rest the weary traveler’s body.

The traveling dancer has arrived.

The dance is complete – until next time.

4. DANCING WITH THE HEART IN THE HEART OF INDIA (13TH January 2011, at the Adivasi tribal villages)

We are greeted like Kings and Queens

A garland of flowers

A bow

A smile

A willingness to play.

We are surrounded by hundreds of little faces

In awe and wonder

Who are you? Why have you come?

Suddenly the drums and the dancing begins.

Joyous voices sharing the celebration.

They dance for us.

We dance with them.

The dance of blessing.

Green feathers and bubbles fly among us.

Connecting us

With hands of peace.

Hearts beating in unison.

That’s why we came.

That’s why we are here.

5. TWO DANCES IN INDIA (15th January 2011 – reflecting on connections with two young women: Meena from the Adivasi tribes and Olivia, a youth leader in training.)

I danced with Meena in the jungle.

Our eyes met in a tribal dance.

She took me by the hand and led me.

I followed as she guided my steps and held tightly onto my hand.

Dressed in a brightly colored sari and showered in jewels

She confidently showed me the tribal way.

Her smiling eyes reassuring my anxious steps.

Smiling eyes


Meena’s youthful enthusiasm and joy for life.

I danced with Olivia in the city.

In a garden oasis at the Music, Dance and Drama school in Varanasi.

Our hands met in a partner hand dance.

Olivia loves to dance – her passion is written deep in her eyes.

Intertwined our dance is improvised

Experiencing freedom,

Exploring movement and space

Hopeful eyes


Olivia’s youthful enthusiasm and joy for life.

6. DANCING WITH A NEW VOICE (16th January 2011 – Dancing with students at the school for the deaf in Varanasi)

Greeted in awkward silence

A smile is enough

Followed by a touch and laughter as a Koala puppet breaks the silence.

Eyes light up

Squeals of glee and surprise

Busy hands frantically exchanged in sign language

We hold hands

The following and leading begins

Trust is present

Connections begin

Silent yet true

We know we are one

As we dance and move together

The breath, the gentle touch

Eyes in wonder and joy of life

We have a new voice.

7. BOOBAR’S DANCE (17th January 2011 – an 11 year old entrepreneur hassling us to buy his products as we walk through the Ghats on the Ganges)

Would you like to buy madam?

Please no.

Very cheap madam. Nice cards for 100 rupee?

Please no.

You Buy Later?

Would you like to buy madam?

You are persistent.

Nice cards madam. Very cheap.

You speak very good English.

You have nice hair madam. Would you like bindi madam?

Please no.

You buy later?

Would you like to buy madam?

Please no.

Very nice for you.

Please no.

What’s your name, madam?

Jenny. What’s’ your name?

Boobar. Would you like to buy, madam?

Nice name. Your English is good.

I go to school. Would you like to buy, madam, very cheap?

No please.

You break a my heart.

8. A DANCE AT THE HOLY GANGES (17th January 2011 – at the River Ganges)

A holy cow,

Narrow streets,

Steps leading to the holy river.

A pathway to heaven?

Holy water poured,

Timber stacked neatly,

Waiting to be selected.

Bodies arrive in a glorious procession,

Only men follow, it seems.

Watching we view the ritual,

With care and love

Bodies are washed in the river,

Lifted high on a sculptured wood stack.

The fire alights,

The smoke is carried to high places,

We wait,

We watch,

Intrusively it seems.

A holy place,

A river of life,

And death

The Ganges.


Dance, dance, dance together

Hearts and souls are one.

Dance, dance, dance together

Journeys have begun.

We are the body

Christ is with us

We are the hands and feet

Christ is with us

Dance, dance, dance together

Hearts and souls are one.

Dance, dance, dance together

Journeys have begun.

Dancing a dance of peace

Christ is with us

With everyone we meet

Christ is with us


About Cynthia Winton-Henry

Cofounder of InterPlay, Executive Director of Body Wisdom, Inc, Spiritual Director, speaker, author at the Hidden Monastery. I produce events, write, coach, and share tools and practices that I've gleaned from listening to the wisdom of the body.
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2 Responses to The Pilgrim’s Dance– Jenny Batten

  1. Just beautiful. Thank you so much.

  2. Pamela Coville says:

    Thank you, Jenny being such a vibrant and wonderful person. It was great to be with you and Peter on our peace pilgrimage to India!

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