Late Sunday afternoon, October 17th, Ma asks repeatedly, "Where are the little girls? We're ready to dress them." Catherine and I sit on the front porch weaving together flower crowns of cream and pink roses and carnation buds. The scent of roses fill the cool autumn air.
Four families from Evergreen, CO and our visitors from Nelson, BC are on their way with their children to celebrate with me Vijayadashami, a culmination of Navaratri - the nine nights of the Divine Mother. As the little girls arrive, their happy chatter fills the air.
We head to the back room, and are blessed to have a friend, native-born of India, help us swath their little bodies in yards of fabric, dressing them in traditional saris.
We are not Indian. We are western, American and Canadian, Norwegian and British, Danish, French, German, Russian. But we seek to honor the Divine, honor the Light, as the darkness of winter closes in.
Our little boys, waists tied in brightly colored sashes, raise their substantial swords crafted lovingly by Shaw, and follow Sadananda out under the apple tree, whose shadows grow long in the late afternoon light. Sadananda-ji sounds the conch and the whole neighborhood seems to vibrate. I am sure it can be heard miles away.
The little boys follow, swords in sashes, leading the procession of girls, in saris of blue, saffron, red.
The little boys, standing guard over the Divine Mother, peek out from behind her throne. Our eldest protector wields his sword heroically.
The little girls sit at her feet, in awe as the story unfolds. One of our little goddesses raises her eyebrows in disbelief.
Ma dances fiercely as Kali, eradicating the million incarnations of the buffalo demon, relishing in their destruction. Shiva teases her by staying a little longer in Samadhi than anticipated.
Finally, peace, as Kali is satiated, one foot resting on Lord Shiva. And the bell rings, and the ghee lamp burns, and blessings flow.
Flower petals float down, and we receive the blessing of a thousand lifetimes.
The evening continues with a hearty feast of radish dal and rice, sweet potato and greens sabji, beet raita, plum and spicy mango chutneys. Everyone exclaims at the quantity of food. We eat to fullness as the children play in the back yard, little boys offering a steady flow of apples picked from the trees of the ashram to their mothers.
What an experience for this group of westerners. What a blessing. What a joy.
In reverence, I bow to you, that you may continue to cultivate the light from a night of vijayadashami throughout the long dark winter months.