Monday, May 26, 2008


A great sight in the district of Ahmedabad’s walled city is the profusion of temples dedicated to Amba Mata or Ambaji, whose main temple is located in Banaskantha near Rajasthan border. Amba Mata is a household deity in Gujarat. People believe that Amba Mata protects them on every occasion and thereby temples dedicated to her stand in each nook and corner of the pol area in the walled city. Besides Amba Mata, there are eight more goddesses such as Bahuchar Mata, Ashapura Mata, which together constitute Nava Durga or the nine forms of the mother goddess.
Children (between the age 12 and 15) of the walled city have a unique tradition of worshipping these mother goddesses, especially the Amba Mata. During the festival of Nava Ratri children from the entire mohala get together and form a team. They collect money to buy puja items and ingredients for feasts. They create an image of one of the goddesses with the help of an adult non-formal artisans, but many times they show the mothergoddess through symbolic gestures showing steps to the mountain, the abode of the goddess Amba Mata, and occasionally a miniature mountain of clay and mud. The entire ten days become an active place in the area surrounding the mohala mata with children performing arti in the evening and ladies playing garbha rasa. Prasad is offered to everyone in the mohola and the visitors. Some hand made toys are also kept near the main idol. On the day following the Dussehara the idols are immersed in a waterbody close to the walled city. At the end, gifts are bought from the collected money and distributed to the members.