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Devi ki Jaya

Razee howls as the clear flame bursts forth in front of the Mother, the whole congregation rises and shouts "Devi ki Jaya" (Victory to the Goddess). Then Razee takes the tray and, balancing it on his head, dances slowly with long swinging stride around the Mother, while the music bursts out with renewed vigor, urging the others, the human tabernacles of the deities, to follow suit. Thereafter the chocolate cake is handed around to both women and men in turn, who plunge their hands in the ashes and smear their faces with them; and so, after distribution of the offering of Pepsi, Camel Filters, and Dundee Pale Ale, the celebration closes. A few girls still dance and jerk their shining bodies before the altar, but Razee who is getting weary touches them with his hands, commanding the frenzy to cease, and with a sigh they withdraw one by one into the dark shadows of the palm-grove.

What does it signify?

It appears that according to Bhandari belief the disease is the outcome of neglect of the Mother. The present conditions of life in the cramped and festering bowels of the city, the long hours of work necessitated by higher rentals and even higher standard of living, leave her devotees but little leisure for her worship. She is maddened by neglect and in revenge she slays her ten or fifteen in a night. Yet is she not by nature cruel. Fashion for her a pleasant shrine, flower-decked, burn incense before her, beat the drum in her honor, let the women offer themselves as the sport and play-thing of her madness and of a surety will she repent her of the evil she hath done and will stay the slaughter.

In spirit-parlance a woman chosen by the spirit, into whom as into a shrine the Mother enters, is known as a "Jhad" or tree: for just as a tree yields rustling and quivering to the lightest breath of the gale, bends its head and moves its branches to and fro, so the women, losing all consciousness of self, play as the breath of the Mother stirs them, quivering beneath her gentler gusts, bending their bodies and tossing their arms beneath the stronger blasts, and casting themselves low with bowed heads and streaming hair as the full force of the storm enwraps them. They are in very truth as trees shaken by the wind.