Today is the fourth day of Navaratri and the Devi of the day is Kushmanda. She has 8 arms and is called Ashtabhuji Mata. When we pray to her, we are rid of different kinds of ailments. Also, when we pray to her, we are absolved of planet mercury’s doshas. This Goddess gives the power to the brain to think properly and take proper decision on various matters. We have to offer seetafal slit into half and sweets made of the marrow (petha or kaddu) to the Goddess. We can also offer a garland made out of green cardamom.
There is a story that the slight smile of this Devi created the cosmos. Here we remember Miss Ansari (name changed). This girl of a different religion would visit our home during the time Dolly would too. We have pictures of the Devi in different poses. This girl would find the Devi in one particular picture smiling to her. She would tell mom, “Aunty, yeh Devi mujhe dekhkar hasti hain.”
This girl was very beautiful like Dolly but double her age. This girl knew when Dolly would not be at our home and the line would be clear for her. This girl was very beautiful with curly hair. She would make 2 plaits and wear 2 red ribbons with large bows on her hair. When she would enter our home, Mom would feel that the Devi herself had entered our home smiling and wearing 2 red roses. This girl would go straight to her favourite picture of the Devi and would keep looking at Her for a long time. Then she would give the Devi a flying kiss and be ready to leave.
At that time, Mom would hug her, kiss her and give her prasad. During festivals, we would have bhajans sung by groups of women at home. The moment this girl heard the sound of the bhajans, she would come and stand near our door to listen. Her family was a Gujarati Hindu converted into the other religion. When the group of women singing the bhajans would leave, she would come inside, look at the special decorations of the day and enjoy them. She would say, “Bahut sundar lag rahi hai aaj Mata Rani.” Then, she would go to her favourite picture and as usual give a flying kiss.
Mom would also as usual hug and kiss her. There would be 5-6 varieties of prasad on those days. Mom would take her to the vessels with prasad and ask what she would like. Then, she would make her have the prasad. She would have it and leave happily. Mom would feel that immediately after the bhajan one of the 3 Devis must have become pleased and come home. This is the way we would live in our previous place. We wonder how we landed in the devil’s den now.