At the age of seven, Devi Chitralekha Ji already knew what she would be doing for the rest of her life.
Her first major speaking engagement was a spiritual awakening for the young girl from India.
“God helped me,” she said. “I could feel God.”
Starting at the age of five, Devi Ji was groomed to become a spiritual leader for the Hindu faith, a dharam guru, for her people. Now 17, she has spent a decade speaking to large crowds in India, along with engagements in the United Kingdom, Africa, the United States and Canada. Her second stop in Canada included an event in Lethbridge earlier this week at the home of Naresh Parekh, and continued with appearances in Calgary Thursday and Sunday.
It’s all part of what can become a very tiring and gruelling schedule. Devi Ji is a popular figure in her home country – she’s in high demand as a speaker and very little time passes where she’s not recognized on the street.
“Sometimes, if you go anywhere, there’s a large crowd,” she said.
She’s also a You Tube sensation, not only for her lectures but also for her music, which can be found on iTunes.
“It’s great,” she says of her status in India, which would likely be difficult for any regular teenager to cope with. “If you are doing something good, it doesn’t matter how old you are.”
She added more conversations about God are needed in society in general, and mentioned the topic of world peace is another subject she takes very seriously. In fact, she will be taking that message to South Korea in September at a conference, just part of her busy travel schedule.
“It’s lots of responsibility but I enjoy it, so that’s why I’m doing it. That’s why I don’t feel the pressure.”
International travel is just a part of life for Devi Ji, but it’s her work in India which has also attracted a lot of attention. Aside from the spiritual guidance she provides for those in her homeland, she’s also involved in fundraising for a veterinary hospital.
In fact, that is how Parekh first got in touch with Devi Ji and her family. The Lethbridge man donated $500 last year to the hospital, and kept in contact with the family until he convinced them to make a brief stop in Lethbridge.
Devi Ji added the hospital in India will require about $500,000 to complete.
“We started in January. There is two to three doctors and some helpers with them.”
She said the facility will focus on the country’s most sacred animals.
“It’s not only for cows, but all animals, but for cows, it’s a big problem there. There are lots of accidents.”
The wounded animals, often the victims of collisions with vehicles, often have nowhere to go, she added, as the hospital has already been busy getting the large animals back on the road to recovery.
She has started a website, http://www.worldsankirtan.org, to help raise money for the cause. Parekh is also collecting donations from Canada, and can be reached at 403-381-7980 for more information.