The small mandapam inside the temple is decorated beautifully with thousands of sweet smelling blossoms. The soft hymns chanting the almighty's name and fame could be heard from anywhere in the temple grounds. The band of performers are drowning any unpleasant noise with their loud yet engaging music, in spite of which, there is a flurry of activity around the Mandapam. Today, our little Lakshmi is at one of the most important milestones of her life, her Kaadhukuthu (ear piercing ceremony). At barely an arm’s length, she is a mini version of her mom, my sister. A lot is going on here, but strangely, it doesn't seem chaotic. It all feels surreal to me. My mind is even tuning out my mother's voice saying to me "Anand, sit close to the mandapam, don't go anywhere else. I can't send a search party for Lakshmi's Thaimama during the muhurtham!"
Time is flying. It seemed only yesterday I’d held her for the first time, the scrumptious little bundle of joy. She seemed so fragile that I was afraid of breaking her. Yet she's managed to make me stronger than ever. She always puts me in a trance with her gleaming doe-like eyes, her soft peachy skin, her tiny kicking legs and her small hands wrapping around my little finger. It has been almost a year already? Never did I know that I would pour my heart and soul over someone I have known for such little time. Our entire household dances to her tunes today. She is the definition of the word "princess".
As I proceed to sit in the mandapam expecting her, she comes on the arms of her mother, like a Goddess on a chariot. Dressed in a yellow pattupavadai with her head shaved and sandalwood paste applied on it, she looks like the cutest laddoo ever made. Her eyes light up looking at me and she gives me the most mesmerizing toothless smile. I wish I could etch this moment in my mind forever. As she crumples my shirt up with her tiny little palms and settles down in my lap, comfortably, the ceremony begins. The goldsmith invokes the Lord's name and proceeds to feel the small base of her ears to find the point to poke. I feel more and more afraid, like I am about to be injected with a big, fat needle. As I close my eyes tightly, there is a small shriek from Lakshmi. I open my eyes in alarm, only to look at the little angel smiling back at me, only this time, not only her eyes but also her ears are glinting because of the tiny diamond earrings.
As any family, mine has gone through urbanization too. As a result, we have all moved to different locations, suitable to our places of work. Today, our little princess has brought us all together, reminding us of our childhood, and making us promise to give her one just as memorable. She has rekindled our spirit of togetherness, our tradition of togetherness.