Mother, it begins with a throb and I know it is time.
I stand among the folds of my flowing garments, deep blue like still waters, edged with glittering froth.
The bells I tie to my ankles are your silver anklets.
Kohl lines my eyes, my lips are stained red with betel leaves.
The beats approach, louder and faster. It is time, they come for me.
Unhurried, I light every lamp in the temple courtyard. Beginning from the lowest of all- the thousandth step.
The forest around lies dark, even forbidding. Watchful eyes follow me as I go up, step after step, lighting the lamps at the sides of each. I know no fear.
When I reach the thousandth step, on top, I turn back to look at a glorious pathway winding downward to heaven.
I give a knowing smile at all those blind to truth, who dare differ.
Heaven is not always up there, fools, look in different directions as well. Heaven is here and everywhere.
The tempo increases and I am ready with my thousand wicks. I light every wick with the fire of my devotion and I catch myself in the reflection of an old ornate mirror.
I see a radiant face. A beauty whose face lights up with every wick that breathes fire with new life.
I breathe life into the wicks and the flames obey like subservient slaves. I pick up the lamps. One in each hand. The spirit descends into me, becomes me, I feel it and I know it. I welcome its powerful surge for I am the chosen one.
I sway at first and the flames obey. Boldened by my success and an innate feeling urging me forth, I move faster.
My footwork grows more elaborate and the rhythm takes over. The crowds gather and the priests begin the incantations.
I become the Goddess in all her luminosity.
The crowd mill and pay obeisance to me, muttering words of prayer.
I begin whirling, my skirts billow and the lamps flicker and then burn with a stronger light.
My hair waves hiding dark serpents twirls around a dark halo.
The drums beat a crescendo and I move purposefully into the sanctum sanctorum and through clouds of perfumed incense, see my likeness in the idol, my beloved Mother Goddess.
My smile is yours.
My eyes incandescent, like yours, gleam with the same fire that heralds its blazing presence even over the hills.
Your hair that is bedecked with ornaments is mine.
The folds of your saree are unruffled, unlike mine.
I see my soul carved in stone. In you.
I become you.
I am you.
The lamps, tired, seem dimmer as I set them down.
Paying obeisance I bow and walk away taking care to adorn my forehead with your sacred vermillion.
Yes, I have seen divinity.
Yes, I have danced the dance of a thousand lamps every evening after sunset. The darkness closes in every night and I wave my lamps dispelling it. The drums beat a rhythm that my feet have known for all time. I burn with the fervor of a thousand torches. I blaze with the power of a thousand lights.
Yes, I sway to the ancient rhythm, my hair a thousand serpents, midnight hidden in them and where I move there is no fear for I have seen divinity, illuminating my path, in the temple, in her image,everywhere, but most of I see it all, in myself.
Yes, I am divinity, personified.