This past weekend, SHARANYA hosted our 4th annual Kali Puja presentation at PantheaCon in San Jose. Intended to welcome those not familiar with the Sha’can tradition and ways of honoring the Divine Mother as Kali, our community held space for over 100 lovers of the goddess. It was a splendid, rich gathering as we created sanctuary together by chanting “Om Maa!” as everyone filled the room, participants taking in the cleansing sounds of rattles and purifying sprinkles of water upon entering.
We began our evening presentation with an introduction through spoken word, helping those gathered understand the context for worship of Kali in our community. Learning more about the Dark Goddess of India, some of her stories, how to approach Her and how to honor Her with her mantra, “Om Krim Kalyai Namah,” enabled those present to begin to understand the depth and beauty of this complex divinity.
Questions and answers finished, we transitioned to our ritual, a puja designed to include worshipers at all levels of devotion and practice. The room positively hummed as we began our heartbeat drum and shifted our energies and intentions to Her. Starting in the North, we began our invocations of the directions, community members stepping forward to call forth the powers of each cardinal point on the compass. Walking the energy around the circle, we then blessed water, purified our altar, and proceeded to welcome in Ganesh, Agni, and our beloved Ancestors of past and future. This accomplished using English and Sanskrit invocations as well as bija (seed) mantras, we took time to remove curses from Devi (goddess) through recitation of the Shappodhara Mantra. This verse from the Chandi Path allowed all present to reflect upon the ways in which we malign ourselves as well as the Feminine in self and world, helping us to clear a space for new realizations of our connection to the Divine through every breath.
With a reconnection to our individual and collective intentions for the ceremony, we next together proceeded to invoke Lord Shiva with mantra and song, raising our voices to Him singing, “Shiva, Shiva, Shiva Shambo, Hare, Hare, Hare Shambo!”. Yellow flowers imbued with participants’ blessings were placed upon the bathed lingham/yoni at the central altar, and we together intoned “Hraum” into silence, feeling Shiva’s reverberations inside.
Next, Maa Kali herself was asked to be present. With verse, Her Gayatri mantra, and an honoring through offering of Her 51 names, we then collectively breathed life into our work with the incantation, “sa’ham” or “She I am.” With this meditation, our in-breath focused the “sa” and our exhalation focused the “ham,” each breath a release of our heart’s yearning to be with and experience the Divine Mother.
Once present with us, we celebrated triumphantly, chanting and singing Her praises with “Jai Maa!”. Raising energy was exhilarating, a rich experience of Her joy, mystery, power and compassion. Grounding after a time, we held space for gratitudes and then our closing prayer, a chant for the gifts of the Divine and a thanksgiving for all we are offered in the universe of possible unfoldings. Gratitudes to all the spirits and energies gathered were then articulated, and we opened our circle feeling deeply the community we had created in Her name and in Her service.
On behalf of all of us in SHARANYA, thank you lovers of Maa for making the evening so special. If you joined us for the event, please let us know of your experience! I can’t wait until next year.