It is the first time, I travel to the temple of Kamakshi Amman, in Kanchipuram, with my teacher of classical dance, Smt Shyamala. We leave before dawn. There is a tranquil feeling in the air. We listen to the Raga Yaman, played by Ustad Sultan Khan on the sarangi. This recital magically concludes, as we enter the temple town of Kanchipuram. Just outside the gates of this ancient temple, we buy beautiful and fresh lotus blossoms, along with red kumkum, to offer to the Mother Goddess. However, Shyamala Akka also carries with her, an unopened pouch of a special brand of deep-red ‘Sri Vidya’ kumkum, from her home, to offer to her Amman (mother goddess). Entering this beautiful temple, I prayerfully follow Akka, in all the rituals. She walks briskly and sure-footedly, through many corridors and nooks that lead us to the many colorful altars of Gods & Goddesses. When we reach the main altar, the priests respectfully usher us in. Akka seats herself on the floor, in close proximity of the radiant Mother Goddess, Kamakshi. She makes sure that I too, huddle up close to her. Today, Goddess Kamakshi is adorned in a deep, viridian-green silk saree, with a crimson-red, gilded border. Goddess Kamakshi glitters in gold and diamonds, and a beautiful, ornate parrot is perched upon Her right shoulder. The priests begin to chant the morning mantras. The brass bells resound. The brilliant, orange flame from the shining brass oil-lamp, encircles and illumines, the golden, compassionate face of the Mother Goddess Kamakshi. Joy and gratitude awaken in my heart. Enveloped in state of wonder and reverence, our faith and surrender, deepens. Bathed in the light of beauty, we receive Her blessings, accepting Her divine light, Her sacred red Kumkum, in humility. Feeling Her blessings envelop our fragility, our vulnerabilities, we bow to Her divine presence in gratitude.

May we all be blessed by Goddess Kamakshi’s divine grace and beauty!

With much love …