by Shakti Thompson
When Nityaananda, our daughter, Isa, and I, were living with our teacher Sri Kaleshwar in his ashram in Penukonda India, we participated in many traditional events. Most of them were fire ceremonies that were held on full and new moons or other special occasions. This time it was a Durga puja in which Mother Divine was worshipped. It was 2003.
In India, the tradition of worshipping the Mother has reached the highest level of devotion and faith. This faith is being celebrated in a Durga puja through worshipping young girls as the divine female energy. The girls have to be in their pre-pubescent phase. Sri Ramakrishna said, “It is the highest form of devotion when you see the Goddess in a kumara (young pre-pubescent girl).”
All of Swami’s staff and their families and all of the western students attended the special puja. The women were all dressed in beautiful saris, mostly red, and the men were wearing dhotis. We all gathered in front of the Mandir where you could see the big white Baba statue through the open doors. The staff had set up a sunshade over the slates where the pujas was being held. They had built a special dhuni outside of the Mandir, which was only done for special occasions. The dhuni was very nicely decorated and carpets were rolled out for people to sit on.
Everyone came with their children. Isa was dressed in a very nice skirt with a matching blouse in red silk with golden embroidery and a matching scarf. She enjoyed dressing in the beautiful festive Indian clothes. I had braided her hair and had put nicely smelling jasmine flowers in it. That is something Indian women all do for special occasions. I also had a special golden bindi for Isa to put on her third eye. She was 8 years old at that time.
We brought our back-jacks to sit comfortably on the floor for this long puja. Sometimes these pujas could go for 3 hours. The puja was running and Swami was sitting right by the fire pit. The priests surrounded the dhuni and chanted the special mantras that were calling on the Divine Mother. They were putting ghee and other offerings into the fire. At some point Swami directed an Indian couple to gather all the young girls in the audience and take them for a special ritual.
All the young Indian girls got up, and to our surprise, they got Isa and another little western girl too. Isa followed an Indian couple to Swami’s rose garden where they had the girls line up. One by one they washed the girls feet. Isa was already quite tall for her age and stood out between the cute Indian girls. It took a while to get all these little girls taken care of in this ritual way. I was able to take some pictures and am happy to share those with you.
When they came back Swami had the girls sit close to him. It was a very special moment and I was happy Isa was able to get a personal experience of this beautiful Indian tradition. The priests did some special chanting then the girls got up and went one by one in front of Swami to receive a small gift package with sacred items from him. It was a very special moment for them.
I am sure that Swami was using the amazing powerful energy with the Divine Mother in some way. He had a special relationship with Her and was always trying to get something to benefit his students and the world from Her.
It is really a wonderful tradition to worship the Divine Mother in the form of a young girl. They are so pure and innocent it is easy to see the Mother in them. This tradition is still being practiced in India and other countries. Many can receive blessings from the Divine Mother when young girls are worshipped. Apparently, this tradition is becoming stronger again in the face of more disasters and the destruction of Mother Earth.
began her studies with Sri Kaleshwar in 2000 and served full- time at his ashram in Penukonda, India for many years. Following Sri Kaleshwar’s instructions, she moved to the US to help manage the Divine Lineage Healing Center in Laytonville, CA and has been helping take care of the Center ever since. One of Kirsten’s many dharmic works is overseeing the Center’s charitable outreach programs in Mendocino County which provide essentials for those in need within one of the poorest counties in California.