Radhamani quickened her steps. The sun was yet to rise, and planet Venus was still shining. In the silence of early morning, she could hear the rustle of her heavy Paata (woven silk) saree and could smell the scent of the gajra in her hair. With painted lips, decorative bindis, and expensive jewellery she was looking like a beautiful bride. She had to reach the temple before the Mangal Arati.
She reached just when the door opened and entered the temple precincts with a bow. The Sevayats (priests) gave welcoming smiles to her. One of them remarked, “Even the sun might oversleep, but our Mahari Radhamani is never late.” She put lotus flowers on the pedestal and Mangal Arati began as she stood with folded hands. When the Arati was over, she went to the Garuda pillar, where musicians were ready with their instruments, as always to commence dancing.
The Sevayats started the ceremonial ablutions of the Lord to the Devadasi’s Odissi dance on the song of Radha Krishna’s spiritual love. The changing of clothes of the Lord too went on to the steps of Radhamani’s dance. The Lords were bedecked and the bhog (food) ritual was completed. It was now time for Radhamani to return to her abode as the devotees would come for darshan.
On reaching home, she found her younger sister Meeramani visiting with her family. As she entered, Meeramani ran to her in joy and hugged her tightly. Meeramani’s three cute children looked at aunt Radhamani’s elaborate attire with great fascination and curiosity. They asked many innocent questions about why their aunt’s fancy clothes and jewellery.
After a lovely afternoon with the family, Radhamani retired to her chambers for a siesta. In the evening, she had to go to the temple to sing the Geeta Govinda while the Lord went into ceremonial slumber. That afternoon, however, she could not get sleep. She was reminiscing the past. As little girls, approaching puberty, Meeramani had been the better dancer. Given this talent, Meeramani’s parents had wanted to dedicate her to the temple as a Devadasi, but the stubborn younger child had flat refused. So, their parents had offered elder Radhamani instead, the tame one.
She was married to the God. She became a temple dancer, a Devadasi.
Her social status was high, since dance and music were an essential part of temple worship. Devadasi or Mahari (Mahan Nari) are those great women who control their natural human impulses and their five senses to submit themselves completely to God through dance and music. Radhamani had been true to the code, unlike some Maharis, and had remained celebate.
She was proud of her sacrifices as a Devadasi, her command over the Odissi dance form and her position of respect in society as the Lord’s wife. However, seeing her nephew and nieces that day, made her wonder if all she really wanted was just to be an average woman.
“Had she been living a lie?”, Radhamani pondered.
Photo By: Saksham Gangwar
This is an entry for #TheLie #Five00-8, a room8 writing event –in 500 words.
Check out the event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/room8/thelie
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