My maternal grandparents stayed in a village called Varkala. It is on the seashore in Trivandrum. The village is very small with row houses on both sides, and Sri Janardhana Swamy temple at one end of the road.

Grandparents’ Kula Deivam (family deity) is Tripura Sundara Devi. They have a puja Mantapa in a corner of a room. Since there was no electricity in those days, the house per se was not well lit.

Grandma would take bath early and worship the Devi daily – lighting an oil Deepam, performing Abhishekam, and decorating (alankaram) of the deity with freshly plucked flowers. In that oil deepam’s light Devi would shine with a gentle smile as if waiting to shower blessings on you.

I was born in that house, and the elders named me Tripura Sundari during the namakaranam ceremony. Later they started calling me Lalitha for brevity.

I was brought up in Calcutta. It is again the abode of Devi in Kali swaroopam. The famous Kali Badi, meaning the residence of Kali Ma, was near our house, and we used to go often. It is a powerful deity which combines both Saundaryam and Fearsome forms.
During Durga Puja festival, Devi as Mahishasura Mardini, is really tejaswini ready to kill the demon.

Kali puja is performed during Diwali. At that time the face of Devi is fierce with the tongue jetting out. That again adds to the divinity and attracts Bhaktas.

Devi is Parabrahmam and this Sakthi swaroopam is addressed as Mother. Rightfully, Lalitha Sahasranamam starts with the namah “Sri Matha…’, the universal mother. It is not possible for a mother to see her child suffer. So total faith and surrender and devotion to her allows one to pass this Samsara sagara peacefully.

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Lalitha Sundaram

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