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This Goddess Is Never Not Broken

In search of the meaning of Khodiyar Ma

Abstract collage of woman

queen dee by Tina Scott Lassiter

About an hour from Tankara, my ancestral home in India, there is a temple called Marlet Mataji, said to be over 11,000 years old. My grandmother used to take the bus from Tankara to the temple to worship one of the forms of the Mother Goddess, Khodiyar Ma. With 11 children, my grandmother, I am sure, identified more with the female personification of consciousness than with the male. The road to the steps of the Mandir (temple) is washed out from the heavy monsoon rains, and the air is a murky yellow from the cement plant. After what seems like a very long time from when my father said, “It’s just close by,” we park our car and clamber up a small alleyway. I nod to the cow at the front of the temple. Before we get to meet Khodiyar Ma in one of her physical representations, we pass numerous photos of children posted by parents who could not bear babies until they prayed here. The temple is constructed around a tree where the original Murti (idol) was formed those thousands of years ago. There is an energy in this space that I would describe as a rootedness: deeply connected with the womb of the Earth. …

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