We chanted and then practiced as a group. For me the power of the place made the practice buzz and fizzle with energy. Chanting in different styles and languages mingled in the background. It felt like there was magic being done and that things were being moved around and rearranged.

It had emerged earlier that we’d brought 3 cloths with us from Thailand to leave at the enlightenment, birth, and parinibbana places. Luangpoh Sudhiro brought the first of these out (blessed it? Chanted?). We got up from our prime spot underneath the Bodhi tree and formed crocodile, each holding onto the cloth. It unfurled, very delicate and gold and we started to pattakina (Pali for circumambulation, and much nicer to say) around the temple chanting the ‘iti pi so...’.

This had a very other-worldly quality for me, as if we’d been taken to another realm that hadn’t been mentioned on the programme. As we walked around for the customary 3 times people reached out to touch the cloth as a blessing. The triple gem came up strongly as we chanted their qualities, and it seemed to me that they were all there, much more tangible than they had ever been. When our walking was done we attached the cloth to the wall around the tree, repeating our adhitthanas, and then we made our way out of the temple. ‘What just happened? Are you sure that just happened to you? How did you end up here? Why did I get to come and other people didn’t?’ Questions bounced round my mind as we walked back to the bus, flooded with feeling and rather dazed by the experience. And it was still only the first day in India, wasn’t it?

Photographs: Bridget, Zarine, Jane, Les and Jaisingh. Layout: Zarine.