Posted on 13 April 2014.
“Hariyuva nadiya kalaravadalli kelutaliruvudu ammanaama!”
I heard a brahmachari singing to himself the above lines as we some of us Amma children were trekking along the Mandakini River in deeper Himalayas. When Amma is available in Amritapuri, all would throng there; but Her children posted in Himalayas have to complete as much of Her work as possible of building houses before the rains start. So they hear Amma Name in the sound of the river Mandakini!
With Amma’s blessings I happened to join them here last week.
On 3rd April, our first day here, early in the morning there was a small puja at the construction site of the 14th house on Batawari sonar village slope by Chandrapuri, where lies Ashram’s base camp. That was our first taste of the steep climbs. It’s no joke to walk up, still less to carry building material, we understood it firsthand!
We did puja and chanted archana in which local people participated. The recipients did puja to the digging instrument and reverentially did the first dig. Then they offered kumkum, chandan and rice grain smears to the forehead of each one present; and distributed Prasad sweets.
The day kept us occupied with the Ammachi lab work at centers. The evening was a treat. Here in the northern belt people celebrate four navaratris a year, one per season. The Vasanta navaratri had begun from the day after Kannada Yugadi, namely April 1st onwards.
After hot roti and sabji, we walked up an uphill road, walked about a mile to reach the peepal tree. Even before we reached we had heard women singing to loud musical instruments. There were more than a dozen women that evening who gathered to sing almost up to midnight.
Jai ho mata durga bhavani
Haath jodu puja karulaa
The women have a strong stentorious voice that can be heard on the opposite hill; their songs pour out with less melody yet with more enthusiasm. Bhajans being their own compositions, they stress on the meaningful words and render the songs. They play on their instruments themselves. Song after song follows but the women do not compete in any way. Old and young, all of them open out their innocent voice and, clapping to the rhythm, sing the lines ‘in full throated ease’ ( as Keats’s birds.)
After each song, they do jaikar to the deity of the song and to Pipaleshwar Mahadev, the Shiva under that peepal tree; then, much to our surprise and joy, they add, Mata Amritanandamay Devi ki Jai!
And as the bhajans reach a peak mood, women slowly come to the central space and begin to dance! As the dancing goes on, it is not rare to see some going into trance and out of the everyday realm.
Amma the mother of all has easily entered the hearts of these simple rustics. This village has several beneficiaries of Amma’s houses, as well as the educational programs at anganvadi both for children and adults, and the tuition classes for school going children. And more to come.