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Valli the Temple Elephant

An elephant's trunk is rough like stone... and its blessing is sticky!

A three-part story of a pilgrimage to The Community of the Many Names of God – Skanda Vale, part 3. Find part 1 here and part 2 here.

It was dark, night had fallen and I thought that Valli the elephant would be asleep for the night.

J, N, P and I walked past the door to Valli’s home, and P told us the story of how she gives blessings for treats as one of the Monks darted past us with a bag of carrots… and opened the door to her home.

“Would you like a Blessing?” He asked us.

I was in awe. She was huge and beautiful and had such presence. How could we say no?

She brushed my hair with her trunk and held it out for the carrot.

“Now that wasn’t a very good blessing Valli,” said the man, “try again”.

She placed the end of her trunk on my head… and SNORTED!

Ew! Covered in Elephant snot!

Queue peals of giggles and wiping with tissues. Valli got her carrot and I had a definite blessing! No-one else got snotted, so I feel honoured, if dubiously.

As we entered the forest to return downhill the sense of the land Spirit/s returned and, again, I was filled with Bliss. I wished the lights were off so we could walk through the forest in the darkness and feel Them more strongly. N turned to ask me how I was doing and, before I could tell them my wish, the lights blinked out leaving the path lit by the Full Moon’s light! Divine!

The curry, made from the food donated to the Temple and blessed in the Puja’s by the Gods, was heavenly too. Very, very spicy. As P says; ‘Religion is delicious.’

Its a fascinating place, Skanda Vale. Multifaith but primarily Hindu in form. Is it right to go and attend the Puja’s if the god-forms are not the ones you connect with most strongly? Is it cultural tourism to go to somewhere like this and participate when we don’t worship Kali at home? Is it ok that I see Her as a form of the Dark mother, who I do worship, and that I enter the Pujas with respect while seeing Kali as part of a larger form? I’m both a hard Polytheist and a believer that all is one. The faces of the Dark mother are an interface for her AND each Dark Mother Goddess is a being in her own right. She may not claim me, but I respect Kali and participating in her Puja’s move me, touch me, effect me in ways I appreciate.

As long as we enter into these relationships with respect and honour, following the rules of the Temple and the Gods and we hold a space in our hearts for these beings, then is it wrong?

Skanda Vale is a special place, deliberately open as a multi-faith space. Believing that all gods are, ultimately, the faces of The Divine. Protecting life where they can, offering connection to those that come with right-mind. In such a place as this to enter with respect and love – Perfect Love and Perfect Trust – is right, even when the Hindu Gods may not be your primary pantheon.