Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chapter Five: The Advent of an Utsavar on Bala's Birthday!

[The Utsavar idol is in the middle, flanked by the two mandaps. The tiny idol of Rajarajeshwari is seated in the orange mandapam on the left, while her daugher Bala is seated in the green mandapam on the right.]



Directly following Navarathri, I returned to London. It had been my intention to be with Sri Bala on her birthday this year ( November 2nd,2010). However, unexpected circumstances caused a change in plans.

On the day preceding her birthday, I prayed to Sri Bala , chanting the thousand spectacular verses composed by Baba.G in his new work “Annai Bala Arputham Aayiram”. I sat in silent contemplation for a while, seeing Bala in all her glory in my mind. I remembered each and every one of the paintings I’d done of her over the years and the love that had gone into every single stroke of my pencil or paint brush. I thought about the hours I spent working on each work of art, decorating Bala with more and more glittering diamonds until she made me stop!
I laughed, recalling her mischievous acts like deliberately ruining a painting and then “allowing” me to set it right!
I thought about the very first painting of Bala seated on a blue lotus and remembered how she had asked me to sketch her nose (by asking me to look into a mirror).

I did also recollect the day I delivered this huge (first) painting to the peetam. Sri Ezhilmani didn’t show any reaction and I wasn’t really sure whether he liked it or not. The second painting I delivered also didn’t receive any reaction. While the family at Nemili received my paintings graciously, I felt intuitively that perhaps my depiction of Bala wasn’t perfect.
Yet, it seemed Sri BALA was accepting my work with all its flaws. However, after I gave away the portrait of Arpudha Bala, in May, 2009, I stopped gifting “original” artwork to the family. Thereafter, only photographs of the paintings Sri Bala commanded me to draw were put up on the website after I’d sent the first photo to be placed at her feet in Nemili!

At one point, earlier this year, I considered putting a complete stop to my paintings. So, for the first five months of 2010, I didn’t execute any art work, until that day in May when Bala informed me that my drawings were meant to provide comfort for others and should not be regarded as “my” efforts!

Every single event that Bala has caused to take place in my life has been part of a master plan and She is in total command!

On November 1st, 2010, I remembered another episode that happened years ago, in December, 2007, to be more precise.
It was in that month I was presented with a small bronze figure of Bala.

During this time, I was busy with preparations for my daughter’s wedding. Sri Bala’s luminous, golden image graced the cover of the wedding invitations and had been mailed to all friends and relatives.
A few weeks before the wedding, I received a gift in advance from one of my mother’s cousins, since she would not be able to attend the function. Since this lady is a Sri Vidya Upasaka and worships Bala Tripurasundari, she had sent me a small bronze image of her since it matched the picture on the cover of the wedding invitation.

As the story turns out, this relative had placed an order in a jewellery shop for just one perfect depiction of Sri Bala, seated on a lotus with four hands and a braid over the left shoulder. However, since the image came out beautifully, the shopkeeper made an extra statue which was also bought by this devotee. It was this second statue that was sent as a wedding present for my daughter in December, 2007.

I was overjoyed to receive this lovely idol and took it to my puja room. However, I was given a very sharp reprimand and it seemed Bala was giving me precise instructions NOT to place it in my puja room but instead, to bring it to Sri Bala Peetam.

So, this is exactly what I did. Although I made several trips to Nemili during December, 2007, it was not until the end of January, 2008 that this precious idol was taken to Nemili. On the auspicious third Friday in the Tamil month “Thai”, I finally remembered to return this bronze image of Bala to the family in Nemili.

In fact, the moment I gave it to Sri Ezhilmani, he remarked I had brought it in on an auspicious day . Baby Amma mentioned that on that same day she had been thinking Bala Peetam required an “Utsavar” ( i.e. a small image of the main deity that can be transported or is portable).
I was told that this idol was the exact height as specified by Sri Bala since statues that are over a few inches in height are not allowed to be placed in the house in Nemili!

What a lot of restrictions, I thought to myself and here I was carrying in this most precious image, hastily stuffed into my handbag at the last minute!!

After this episode, I’d completely forgotten about this “Utsavar” idol of Bala until Navarathri 2010. In fact, one of my close friends who had read about this particular story in blog asked me a question as we sat in front of Bala during Navarathri. “ Where is that idol you gave the Peetam years ago? I thought you’d written that Sri Ezhilmami placed it right next to Bala ?”

I looked at the Mandapam and searched for the idol. However, it didn’t seem to be there!

Perhaps, it wasn’t meant to be used after all! Maybe this whole incident was all a figment of my imagination?
I meant to ask Sri Ezhilmani about the whereabouts of this image but completely forgot to do so.

So, on the day before Bala’s birthday, I asked her mentally “ Bala, did you not want to accept that gift of mine? Why do I feel that just as in the case of all my paintings, perhaps this present too was deemed unnecessary ?

On November 2nd, I read Sri Bala Virutham, Kavacham and Nivasathu Hridhi Bala with the sincere intention of seeking Bala’s blessings for a few friends going through difficulties. Then, I called Sri Ezhilmani to wish dear Bala on her birthday.

Even before I could start my conversation, he said joyfully “Amma, today, at the express command and wish of Sri Bala, we brought out the Utsavar idol you gifted us, for public display” .

I was completely speechless!

He carried on “Also, you’ll be very happy to hear that we placed the wooden swing you gave us right in front of the Mandapam. On this decorated swing, for the very first time, and all in one row, we have placed Sri RajaRajeshwari at one end, Bala at the other extremity and this new Utsavar idol in the centre”!

“But, but” I stammered in confusion “I was just going to ask you what happened to that idol today because I was thinking about it yesterday”. I could not say anything more.
Sri Ezhilmani replied “See, I was able to read your mind before you voiced your thoughts!”

I was truly overwhelmed by this turn of events and spent the rest of that day in a haze of joy!

Mohan sent me a few photos the very next day and my heart overflowed with happiness at this love showered on me by Bala.
She heard my prayers, understood my feelings and gave me the “gift” of her love on the auspicious day of her birthday!

Sri Bala Charanam.

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