On the eve of Manabasa*
my seventy-year-old granny
turns more active than
a bride dwelling in her thirties
Drawing buckets of water
from our abysmal well
she washes the entire floor
from backyard to front yard
& plasters with cow dung
until the fragrance of cleanliness
touches the core of her soul
Investing all the energy
that her bent body possesses
she prepares Chita* not with a grinder
but with grinding stone
Painting the fresco
of designs, patterns & flowers
in her frail fingers
she makes our ancestral mud house
much more appealing than
any big building flaunting with urbanity
The serene fresco
of lotus & feet of deity Laxmi
with which she decorates the entrance
has the ability to bloom spirituality
in every mind that sees it
Filling the mana* with
freshly harvested grains,
placing that on khatuli*,
adorning that with a new saree
she worships that with all the devotion
as an incarnation of Maa Laxmi
A sense of divinity
swirls throughout the home
with the aroma of her handmade pithas*
that she bakes putting all her heart
& that divinity penetrates our conscience
when her cataract operated eyes
& sore throat create magic
while she recites Laxmipurana*
She reveres the Goddess
of wealth & good luck
with this much dedication
that makes me wonder
if she is the synonym of faith
or the personification of holiness
& when she gives me prasad
I stare at her, I stare more
until my eyes get closed
with the radiance emanating from her face
My knees bend,
my hands fold,
my lips mute
seeing a Goddess in front of me
draped in white saree with red borders.

*Manabasa- The festival of Odisha in which Odia people worship Goddess Laxmi on Gurubar (Thursday) during the lunar month of Margasira.

*Chita- Rice paste in liquid form that is used to paint & decorate wall & floor.

*mana- a traditional bamboo-made container used to measure paddy

*khatuli- a low table

*pithas- A variety of food similar to pancake

*Laxmipurana- a holy book worshipping the Goddess Laxmi. It was written in the 15th century by Balarama Das, an eminent poet of Odia literature.

6 thoughts on “Fresco

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