3 January 2004 — Amritapuri
After bhajans ended this evening and Amma returned to Her room, many made their way to the kalari for the monthly Karthika Puja.
In addition to the annual birthday observed in the West, which is based on the sun’s position, a monthly birthday is also traditionally observed in India that is based on the moon’s. Karthika is the nakshatra (constellation) in which the moon was transiting at the time of Amma’s birth, and so each time the moon returns to this spot in the heavens, approximately every 28 days, is considered a birthday.
While a beautiful song was offered, followed by the chanting of Amma’s 108 Names, the 108 Names of Devi, and the Mahishasuramardini slokas, the ashram pujaris performed the Kali Puja. Sitting in the center of a large yantra, drawn on the temple’s floor out of colored rice powder, and decorated with sacred flowers and other traditional symbolic items, stood a tall, garlanded oil lamp. Smaller replicas surrounded it, each with four wicks burning. The room danced by the light of the many flames and swam in the fragrance of the incense, all adding to the purified and peaceful atmosphere.
As the puja ended with the closing peace mantras, everyone queued for darshan of the sanctum sanctorum, and to receive sweet prasad. A blessed way to begin the year!