The last few days have been very festive, as Durga puja was this week. Durga is the matriarchal goddess of all and everything, and the most powerful. India is one of the few places that has feminine godheads.
Today is a very special pooja in which everyone blesses the tools that are used throughout the year. I think it is a wonderful practice to bless the items you use everyday, the cupboards, doorways, utensils, electronics… To be conscious and thankful for what you have, not just your health and family but down to every last pencil and hairclip, that is a beautiful thing.
A powdered blessing
Another colorful tradition for Durga (as well as other auspicious days) is to bless the doorways of each house with a colorful design, called a rangoli. The colors and shape of the design purify the energies of the person walking over it before entering the house. The ammas at the beach office created a lovely rangoli outside the entrance. Loose powder is carefully sifted through their fingers to craft a symmetrical pattern. It takes much practice to learn how to intricately craft rangolis. It was such a joy to see the multicolored saried women all chattering in Tamil, expertly creating an equally vibrant work of art.
Leonie and I went to several puja ceremonies at the ashram, where prayers are read and fruits are offered. All attendees receive a blessing and a bag of prasad, sweets. Prasad can be roasted garbanzo beans, coconuts, bananas, or ladoos (sweet confectionary balls), to name a few.