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Mandalas, Mantras and Motherhood

mandala mantra art motherhood

It was our first Diwali in our new home in Goa and obviously we were very keen on creating memorable moments that would last a life-time – ours, and possibly – our children’s. We cleaned and uncluttered the home, made art, decorated many corners, cooked delicacies, clicked pictures, lit candles, diyas (clay lamps), made rangolis. And hey, we even came out of our comfort zone to host a get-together for some new friends that we’ve made here.

You see, all of this sounds quite a bit, especially, with Sufiana in tow. It may even sound like we had a rushed week. But, I have to tell you – amidst all these ‘things’ that we did for Diwali, it was always on top of my mind that I do not want to ‘do’ at the cost of inconveniencing Sufiana (the littlest member in our family). I don’t want to come out of the festival week feeling stressed and rushed. I don’t want a ‘perfect-looking’ Diwali; I want a ‘happy Diwali’.

So, if I could share with you three simple practices that worked for me – worked to keep me calm, centered and mindful during the festival time (that could have otherwise been overwhelming), those have to be:

1. drawing mandalas and other spiritual art

2. chanting mantras and writing them out, and,

3. Squeezing in time every once in a while (in between all the festive cleaning, cooking and decorating) to escape into a quiet room to play with my little one – my little Sufiana.

So, we did as best as we could. I was able to strike a balance – between making it special for Diwali and being there for my baby and being able to enjoy the moments without feeling the stress.

I made delicacies – all delicious and do-able. Not elaborate and time-consuming. There’ll be time for more elaborate dishes.

Similarly, I did make rangolis – small mandalas; lit a few clay lamps outside and inside. Much as I was yearning to light dozens of diyas in every corner of the home and yard – I explained to myself that there’ll be time for such elaborate stuff. But, now is the time to keep it special in a simple way.

The best part of keeping it do-able is that we were able to touch upon many aspects of the diwali celebration – food, guests, decor, art, greeting cards, prayers – and yet had fun and were relaxed and together.

mommy labs_diwali
in the process of lighting the clay lamps (diya)

You may wonder how the mandalas and the mantras are among the simple practices that help me. Basically, at their core is one singular thought/choice that I keep close to my heart and on top of my mind.

And it is this –

“we’re here to enjoy the festival by being with each other and not by being busy in a way that the ‘things’ take priority while ‘people’ are ignored.” “Yes, I want to make Diwali special and beautiful and bright and delicious. But, I can do all this WITH my family to the extent that we’re enjoying it together and not burned out and stressed.”

So, where do the mandalas and the mantras fit in, you may still wonder.

mandala art mantra

The mandalas….

I sit down to draw mandalas to center myself and reconnect when I feel I’m exhausted by overdoing the ‘things’. The mandalas help me rejuvenate. So, drawing mandalas was a consistent theme all through the Diwali week. Pari and I made those together as Diwali cards that we ultimately posted to friends and family. Taking a break to draw mandalas is refreshing but other than that it is also a beautiful way to celebrate Diwali through healing art that can be shared with the ones you love – by sending them as greeting cards.

I love it if this small gesture of mine can strengthen the bond between me and the receiver of my card. I feel that if art has any purpose, this is the best of them all – to strengthen relationships; to say that you care, you love – without even using so many words.

mandala mantra Diwali art

The fact that I was thinking of somebody when making that mandala art, isn’t that proof enough that I love and care for that person? And, then posting it to him or her. Pari and I went to the postoffice to send those cards – to Delhi, Bangalore, Sagar. I have to tell you this – when walking back home – hand in hand and the other hand holding umbrella over our heads (the intense Goan afternoons!) – I was feeling good. Like, real good. Like, this is the purpose of my life – spreading love, reclaiming it, forging bonds, caring for my little ones, pursuing small acts of kindness and love.

The mantras…

I chant regularly – Diwali or no Diwali. During the Diwali week especially, we all made sure we chanted every morning and evening – together. This has become our Diwali tradition that we’ll follow every year. Chanting the mantras fill us up with a powerful inner energy that nothing else can provide. It creates an environment that is healing, peaceful and transforming.

I chant these mantras to put Sufiana to sleep; when I’m cooking; in the evenings – whenever I need to center myself. Actually, not just when I need some centering, but also when I’m feeling calm and centered. Yes, that’s also when the mantras come out of me – as if as an after-effect of my calm, serene mind and soul.

Both Sufiana and Pari love it when I chant/sing the mantras. Pari often chants with me, while Sufiana listens intently – without making any sound or action.

mommy labs_mothering

Mothering…

Festival times are fun times. But, as I said, they can get stressful, too, for all that you want to accomplish – a clean and beautiful home, sumptuous meals, gifting, visitors, guests. And then, you have the post-festival clean-up and re-organizing…

In the middle of all this, the one person who might end up being at the receiving end is the littlest member in your home – the baby or your toddler – who cannot even talk to express his or her feelings exactly as the child is feeling.

This is the reason that no matter how important a task I’m doing or how ever little time I have in hand to finish it, I’ll drop it then and there, wash my hands, pick my baby up and escape into the room that’s away from the noise and bustle. I nurse her, even though she may not be hungry. That’s one way for us to bond and relax. It calms her senses and mine. It helps me get a breather and for her to express herself by the sounds she makes when she’s feeding. Other than this, we play and laugh on the bed looking into the mirror on the wall. This is her favourite play. She’s trying to stand all the time without support and as she does this, she likes to look at herself into the mirror. After oodles of kisses and hugs and talking and listening and playing, we emerge from the room – she knowing that mamma may go back to finishing the pending work.

I’ve noticed that when I keep reconnecting with her in the middle of a busy day, she’s never cranky and clingy. She understands mamma will be there for her before she starts missing being cozy with me.

So, yes, mandalas, mantras and motherhood – these are connected more closely than one would imagine. The mandalas and the mantras do an amazing job at mothering the mother that I am. “Mothering the mother” – it’s time families pay special heed to this thought. :-)

How was your Diwali, folks? How do you keep the festival stress at bay? What’s your formula? :-)

———————————————-

More Diwali art from our home.

spiritual Diwali art with mantra

Those water-colour cards at the bottom of the list were made by Pari. Check out her blog post to see those mantra healing artwork. She also shared the thought process behind each art.

spiritual art for Diwali

Devi (Goddess) mantra (strotam)

zentangle art

an abstract…

Diwali diya painting spiritual art

painting diyas (clay lamps) with tempera paint – my all-time favourite Diwali activity!

And, finally – if you’d like to know, these are some of the mantras and strotas I chant and recite. These are some of the most powerful Sanskrit mantras – spiritual in essence rather than religious.

1. The Gayatri Mantra:

“OM BHOOR, BHUVA, SWAHA
OM TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YONAHA PRACHODAYAT”

We meditate on the glory of the Creator;
Who has created the Universe;
Who is worthy of Worship;
Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light;
Who is the remover of Sin and Ignorance;
May He open our hearts and enlighten our Intellect.

2. Devi Strotram: Salutations to the divine feminine, the mother – the goddess or the devi and how her energy manifests in our lives:

  • YA DEVI SARVA BHOOTESHU,
    SHAKTI RUPEN SANSTHITA,
    NAMASTASYEI NAMASTASYEI,
    NAMASTASYIE NAMO NAMAH

3. The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra (the most powerful of all mantras)

Om Triyambakam Yaja Mahe Sugundhim Pusthi Var Dhanum

Urava Ruka Miva Bandhanan Mrityor Mokshiya Mamritat

PS: Pari has written in more detail about this mantra and what it means to us.

4. Ayi Giri Nandini, Mahisasura Mardinisalutations to the Goddess – the feminine who destroys the evil and does good to all. Beautiful verses – see the meaning here.

5. Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo: To awaken one’s Buddha nature

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Madhu October 30, 2014, 9:32 pm

    What a beautiful write-up Rashmie! I loved the way you celebrated Diwali. You are right, motherhood and mantras do seem interconnecting. I am yet to start reciting mantras to my 3 year old. I tried Gayatri mantra but she doesn’t seem to want me to sing those to her. Of course, I don’t push her to listen to those if she doesn’t want. I am giving it a break and will start over again. I also loved your clay diyas and greeting cards! Pari’s greeting cards are also excellent.

    As for us, we also did it in a simple way (unlike the last time). Megha and I made salt dough Diyas (and lit tea-candles in it), Play-dough diya’s with sparkles in it (again, lit tea-candles in them), Crayon Lanterns using paper bags; however, I could not light it as I could not find small (reasonably priced) LED lights and my husband didn’t think its safe to light proper candles inside. But anyway, the purpose of this was to enjoy the whole process of making it and boy did we have fun!!

    This time my formula was to use what you always say in your blog, “make time to do what you like” and I took your advise. After my DD was born (3 years ago), I hardly did anything “for myself alone”. So, this time, after she went to bed, I made some Diwali decorations (paper Diya-banner). It was so soothing and I felt refreshed and happy after doing it all by myself and for myself! I don’t know when and why/how I lost track of things I used to enjoy before. I wish there is a way to upload a picture to show you these diya-banner. Its OK , I will send this in an email. I also up-cycled (a word which I picked from your blog :)) an old green silk saree and made that into a saree-curtain to bring out the color in the room. My toddler approved saying “wooow momma, so pretty!” Even my husband who usually doesn’t notice things like this commented “looking good”. Lol

    • Rashmie November 4, 2014, 12:17 pm

      Dear Mridula – thank you for sharing all the different ways that you made your and your daughter’s Diwali artful and colourful.
      I have tucked away some sarees, too, to make curtains out of those. Sadly, the house that we have right now doesn’t have provision for curtains. It has blinds. :-(
      Do send me a pic of your banner. I’d like to share it on my FB page, if you don’t mind :-)
      About the mantra – yes, she may not appreciate it now. But, she may, at some other time. Also, you can sing a variety of mantras and see which one she resonates with.
      I’ve also noticed that sometimes Sufiana likes when I just plainly ‘chant’ the mantra. At other times, she may like if I ‘sing’ that mantra to her – like in a proper melody/tune.

  • Miquela October 31, 2014, 4:40 am

    What a lovely-sounding holiday. Thanks for sharing your beautiful art and the link to Pari’s blog. She is a very talented girl, but more than that, the pleasure she takes from her art and the joy she feels in life is apparent and contagious.

    I appreciate your reminders to stay small and centered as we are moving towards holidays, too. I love *doing* and decorating for the holidays, but the spirit I want to cultivate most is the spirit of being together and enjoying one another.

  • Rashmie November 4, 2014, 12:21 pm

    Miquela, pari is so happy that you subscribed to her blog and have commented on a couple of posts. She wants to check out your blog, for i told her you’re an artist and a writer and have your own blog too. Is it okay with you if I share your blog with her so she can comment back?

  • Miquela November 5, 2014, 5:09 am

    @Rashmie

    Of course you may share. I’m not as active on it as I once was. I like rereading anecdotes from years past, but it seems like I don’t have the energy to blog like that any more. Different priorities now with the wee ones and various other hobbies.

  • Jyothi October 31, 2016, 9:27 pm

    Hi Rashmie, reading your articles is just like meditating. When ever I feel like stressed I simply open your site and just read the article, especially this one makes me and my mind to slow and calm down……