Hindu by tradition but with deep belief in the tribal religion of her ancestors, a young mother in eastern India sought peace in the mother goddess who dwelled in trees.
The desire for some assurance that the gods of her ancestral religion would bring good fortune was strong in Varsha*, who was eager to protect her family from the despair of poverty evident throughout her village. She sold liquor to supplement her husband’s meager day-labor earnings, but they knew one day of lost work meant going hungry the next day.
Varsha had long believed that the mother goddess dwelling in the trees, the Gram Devi, would protect and provide for her family if she performed enough rituals in the sacred grove. She found no peace in giving sacrifices of white flowers and white chickens, though, and it wasn’t long before she was in bondage to strong drink.
“She was leading a completely worldly life, and since she was selling liquor, she was addicted to alcohol and practiced all kinds of evil,” the director of a local ministry said. “She tried to find peace through many sources, especially through religious rituals and through magicians, but nothing happened, and she lost all her hope in this world.”