Monday, May 18, 2009

Magic in the Dark

Yesterday, a thunderstorm struck the Sunday Feast. To escape the torrents of rain, everyone huddled under the main tent or streamed into the templeroom for powerful and beautiful bhajans. 

And then, the electricity cut out! The soft gray light from outside filtered in and lit the forms of Radhe Shyam. They were wearing green and dark blue – I seemed to be witnessing Radhe Shyam emerging from a forest, alive and mysterious.

Then my godsister Jackie invited me to help her put away the day outfit, which is quite a feat in Alachua on Sundays. In delight, I agreed and followed her into the pujari room. I settled into the service that I used to do once a week for nearly two years. I folded blue and green silk and placed jewelry in drawers. Sweet memories seeped under the door of my mind like scrolls of incense.

Later in the night, even the generator cut out – everything went pitch black. We couldn’t even see each other’s faces. So what else could we do? We dashed to the templeroom to dance! Lit by dim emergency lights, the group of us women danced in whirls to the rhythm of the kirtan. 

The kirtan came to a crescendo and the curtains for Radhe Shyam swung open. The altar was lit by candles, which captured the forms of the Deities in pools of bronze light.

And when I joined Jackie again in the pujari room, we continued our service by candlelight.

At the end of the night, I felt drenched in the scents of champaka and jasmine and silk. A garland encircled my wrist, a plate of mahaprasad was in my hand, and I was immersed in the images of Radhe Shyam.

Finally, the electricity came on again, and I laughed to think how typical this is of India but so shocking for America. 

When Jackie and I stepped off the temple verandah to go home, we paused to gaze up at the glimmering stars. Humility and peace washed over me. 

This is magic. This is home

The gray twilight, the lamps, emergency lights, candles, the starlight… they had all illuminated something last night, some magic in the dark.  


Nirant Sethia said...

Dear Bhakti Lata,
I just came across your blog when I was showing my friend's here in Australia about Indian Culture and other things since my parents are members of Iskcon.
Well I must say that your belief in Indian culture is a lot inspiring when I think that we as Indian youth are trying to aviod it, forget it, or speak ill about it.
I just want to know how did you come across ISKCON and what made you so devoted towards Lord Krishna and Indian culture.

P.S. I am Nirant 23 from Mumbai, India but studying in Australia.

Bhakti lata said...

My parents are also devotees of Krishna, and I've been raised with this Vedic, Krishna conscious culture since birth. (note: I am NOT Indian) At one point, at around 13, I realized that life is empty without God. Empty. So I made my decision to pursue Krishna Consciousness, and follow the guidance of a guru who inspires me, Radhanath Swami (

I understand what you mean about Indian youth pushing away their culture - I was quite saddened by it when I visited India. But although I love and respect Indian culture, it's important to distinguish that Krishna is not Indian, or Hindu, or even Vedic. Krishna is God, and he's someone to fall in love with because he's God. Indian culture is supplementary to Krishna consciousness.

Good to hear from you. Thank you for your encouragement.

Radhika Patel said...

oh bhakti, this entree gave me chills as I read it! There is nothing like dancing for krishna in the dark. You let loose and let go of everything!

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