Om Namo Narayani
Greeting and Blessings from Sri Narayani Peedam, Sri Sakthi Amma’s Ashram in Tamil Nadu South India.
Since the last blog, it has been a busy time with lot of opportunities for seva (selfless service) and many days of festivities and celebrations. We have had Christmas, New Years, and ongoing thrice daily yagams (fire ceremony) in the lead up to Amma’s Birthday. And now today, January 3rd, the culmination of festivities occurs with Amma’s 40th Jayanthi (Birthday) celebrations.
Today started at the Peedam temple at 5am, where we attended the first aarthi (offering of flame) to Sri Narayani (the deity presiding in the Big Narayani temple), before some of the devotees joined the parade around the village that took 40 baskets of food all lovingly cooked by Amma’s mother.
The rest of us helped to prepare 80 baskets of different varieties of flowers, for the two grand flower pujas (rituals) to be performed during the day. We could hear the culmination of the 15 days of fire ceremonies going on just meters away. The energy was building and building and it was only 6.30am!
At about 7.30am AMMA performed the abhishekham (ritual bathing) on Sri Mangala Narayani before conducting a wonderful flower puja where 40 baskets where lovingly showered down on the Deity to create a visual feast of Divine beauty. Thereafter, Amma disappeared off to a side room where the priests preformed abhishekham on Her, offering the water from the kalasam (silver pot) that had been previously charged by the mantras and offerings at the fire ceremony. The energy rippling out from the room was immense. Amma emerged glowing resplendently and received aarthi (offering of the flame) before the crowd, creating further blessings for us all. We were then sprinkled with the blessed water to conclude the puja.
Amma performing aarthi (offering the flame) to Sri Narayani Mangala after the deity was showed with flowers.
After a quick breakfast, we then headed to the day’s venue that had been erected next to Sri Puram to create a wonderful atmosphere for thousands to take part in the celebrations. We sang bhajans (devotional songs) to Amma for some time and the energy built as the venue filled.
Then, in a wave of drumming and shakti, beloved Amma arrived at the back of the large venue to walk down a long catwalk through the centre of the crowd. It was one of the many highlights of the day to see Her gliding majestically and joyfully blessing the thousands of excited devotees.
Shortly after aarthi (offering of the flame) and pada puja (ritual to the feet of the guru) were performed on Amma. Subsequently, the second flower puja (prayers and ritual) for the day was performed, this time the 40 baskets (one for each year) were poured on Amma, creating another colourful vision of Divine splendour.
There were also speeches for the official guests and a discourse from Amma followed by hours of Amma receiving gifts from thousands of people. Many people presented Amma with flower malas ranging from the usual size, to one 40 foot mala! It was a beautiful spectacle to see so many different walks of life all come together to celebrate and all have such close access to Amma. From government officials with army escorts, sadhus and priests, village people, wealthy businessmen, Amma received each person with the same love and graciousness. It was also a timely reminder of how blessed we are to have the good karma to have such personal access to Amma every day at puja when She offers teerthum(holy water) to all.
This function finished at about 4pm then we had some rest time before we once again gathered at the Peedam where Amma gave a discourse about the importance of wisdom gained through spirituality, without which strength, wealth, health and knowledge are incomplete in our lives. This wisdom helps us to utilise the wealth, health and strength for good causes (the full audio is attached- click here).
Amma then cut the cake and received gifts from the overseas devotees, and presented each of us with large servings of cake. Even in her ‘receiving’ She is ever giving, in every dimension. For what can we give the Divine Mother anyway?
Last night Amma similarly received hundreds of people from local temples who offered her flowers and fruits and then were presented with kilos of rice and other temple supplies from Amma’s own hands. Two nights before that, on NYE Amma was cutting cake and again giving discourse to hundreds!
Her constant action of pure love expressed through puja (prayers and rituals)and seva (selfless service) stretches my consciousness to see what is possible – through Divine grace alone- and this is the calling of the soul in each of us, to learn to love and serve from this place. Spending time here with Amma I am reminded of the following Kahlil Gibran quote:
“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”
Amma embodies this joy of service. She does this through Her embodied wisdom of reality, reality being sathya (the truth) of our Nature, which is Divine. Tonight at the conclusion of the discourse Amma blessed us all to experience this wisdom of Divine reality. Please click here (audio file) to enjoy Her Divine discourse and blessings.
OM NAMO NARAYANI
Love and blessings
P.S. You can join Shakti Durga on retreat in Peedam at Sri Sakthi Amma’s ashram: 21 January to 1 February. Bookings.