Kumari Puja


Before bright idols of ten-armed Goddess Durga
surrounded by her colorful offspring we wait hot hours
breathing fragrant smoke, anticipation building
in bold ringing brass, metallic drum beats.
Symbolic sweetmeats paraded by white dressed apprentices,
pressed to fasting lips of orange-robed monks,
every motion absorbed by oiled, saried,
neck-stretching crowds jostling for a view,


a second of silence, a thousand intakes of breath,
hollow call of air exhaled through conch shells -
whispers rise from a multitude of joyful lips,
trembling wind of excitement stirs forests of devotees–
she is carried on-stage,
bells and drums and ululating rise to a roar
as our Divine Mother is seated on her marigold throne.


Calm as a flower, dimpled hand opens in hennaed blessing,
first hint of a crooked smile fades to serene eyes
and we receive tranquil blessings from Kumari, living goddess,
for a day.


Ramakrishna Mission, Dhaka, 2015

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