Many many years ago, when G and I were bright little girls – smart and talkative and intelligent and spunky – we visited a friend’s home. This lady was my mother’s friend and colleague. Their family was hosting a wise man from South India who was a devotee of Hanuman. Now my mother’s friend’s mother-in-law was a devotee herself and that’s probably why they were hosting this gentleman.

Long story short, we got there and sure enough, there was a throng of people who’d come to meet this person. We were too young to be introduced, so we entertained ourselves with whispers and remarks and little games. Out of the blue, some highly enthusiastic person (maybe it was my Mom?) asks us to sing a song for everyone. Huh! Just as we had made ourselves invisible in a little corner at the back of the room… Darn. I protested that we didn’t know any songs for Hanuman but no one paid any heed. “Oh, just sing any song,” they said.

So we made our way to the beautifully decorated altar with the magnificent picture of the mighty Hanuman surrounded by elaborate platters with fruits and flowers and snacks, lit lamps, burning incense… and a bearded man, eyes closed, emanating waves of silence.

G and I had a hurried consultation and we finally picked a song that we were both comfortable singing together. The song was Maamava Sadaa Janani in raag Kaanada. I felt silly singing a song in praise of Mother Divine in front of a Hanuman devotee and assembly. Well, let’s just get this over with.

We began singing and I had the strangest sensation of feeling terribly overwhelmed. Maybe it was the fervor in the song, the weight of all the people milling around in the room and their expectations, the nervous tension of performing? I don’t know. Or maybe it was the tangible feeling of being in the presence of something larger and benevolent and beautiful and kind. I just about managed to complete singing the song – fighting a choked throat all through. It was probably the first time I had experienced such depth of feeling and I was clueless where it originated from.

Must be almost 20 years since that day…. But I remember it so clearly.