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Photo by Darpan Dand

Photo by Darpan Dand

Vijaya Sundaram is a poet, a musician, teacher, a keen observer of the world, and the mother of one of Chhandika’s young students who has been studying with us for three years or so. Vijaya wrote the following poem after sitting in on her daughter’s ghungroo ceremony, at which the child received her ankle bells. She captures exquisitely the mood of the room, the essence of the ceremony, and the feelings that we experience upon receiving our own bells, or watching our loved ones do so.

And once you have read this poem, do take a moment to visit her site, vijayasundaram.com, for a treasure trove of beautiful writing and reflections.

Dancing Bells
(Honoring my Daughter’s First Ghungroo Ceremony)
©By Vijaya Sundaram
April 6th, 2013

A deity smiles

Benignly down

At the offerings

And the flowers.

Indian food and chai

Compete with incense

The air is quiet

Awaiting blessing.

Today, my girl learns

What tradition is

And she turns on the

Hinge of creation

She to her teacher,

She to her teacher,

Connected by bells

Strung tight together.

Wise words are spoken.

Her teacher evokes

A sense of sweet awe

Reaching for realness.

Hot tears sting my eyes

Mine too, he whispers,

As I dab at them

With my dupatta.

The ceremony

Glows through the morning

A quiet reverence

Saturates the air

Bells on their ankles

Tender and thrilling

Quell their pressing doubts

Render them quiet.

Then, they whirl and twist

They twirl and they stamp

And turn, her young friends

And she, dancers all.

The bells ring out clear

And bright, and tender

The blessings linger

In hands, feet and hearts.

Now, she is one with

Her dancing self and

She sees where the road

Leads.  She is unfazed.

She is persistent,

She is stubborn,


These will move her feet.

And her arms will shape

The air into song

Sculpting song into

A pattern for her days.

And her teacher’s words

Will string the small bells

Of each dance into

Bells that ring for life.

For the tradition

Comes through each of them

Through the student and

Into tomorrow.