Saturday, August 11, 2012

Birthday Party for God

(photo by Damodar Rati)

The clock is ticking down to midnight. I approach the glowing temple - I see hundreds of people inside all singing to the thrum of drums, and many more crowd outside on the verandah, peering in.

The time is coming! The curtains will open soon! I dash to the doors and slip inside.

I stand at the back in a pocket of space, exchanging grins with some friends. Suddenly, someone flips off the lights, which plunges the templeroom into darkness. Now all we can see is the glow that seeps around the curtains of the altar, which dimly illuminates the sea of people with upturned faces.

I can't stay at the back. No way.

I catch sight of a friend, and with a huge grin I motion my head towards the altar. "Let's go!" I say. Her eyes widen and she smiles back. I grab her hand and we weave our way through the densely packed crowds, all the way... all the way to the very heart of the templeroom.

The anticipation of hundreds of people to see the Lord washes around me like deep ocean currents.

Suddenly, three men emerge from behind the curtains and place conch shells to their lips. The sound reverberates like trumpets through the night and hundreds of voices rise in response.

Midnight has arrived. 

And when at last, at last.... at last the curtains swish open, hands rise to the sky in surrender, the entire templeroom is filled with cries of exhilaration and joy, every atom of my being seems to be ringing with awe. I raise my own arms. I feel as though a tidal wave of beauty is crashing over and around me.

I fall to the ground in obeisance. Cool marble tingles beneath my hands.

When I rise, I take in the breathtaking form of Radha and Krishna, bedecked with flowers and silks. So begins the midnight arati, the most spectacular kirtan of the year, for midnight on the 8th day of the waxing moon was the moment that Lord Krishna was born.

Just when I think I'm getting a little too overwhelmed with the sound and the heat and the crowds, I look over to see a group of women dancing with zero inhibition. Zero. So I head on over and jump in to the fantastic fray! The dancing spreads and spreads until the entire templeroom of people is dancing and singing at the top of our lungs. I experience all barriers, all judgments, all sins, all pain dissolve. We simply lose ourselves to the bliss and celebration of Krishna and His holy name.

We're throwing a birthday party for God - how can it get any better than this?

(photos by Jivana Wilhoit)


Vinod said...

I missed the party this year ..

Jadurani Devi Dasi said...

Wow...Sounds like it was an amazing time!

jessica bishop said...

Bhakti... I knew this was your work, before I saw the name... Even now I am writing this I am assuming that this is you.. And yet, I know it must be. I just had an experience almost too sacred to share... So sacred, I am overwhelmed and empowered. I just saw your book : tears of joy:

To write is to dare the soul. So write.