A Vortex of Calm in a Tough L.A. Neighborhood

March 13, 2007

Author: Louis Sahagun

Source: Los Angeles Times


The building appears to be just another little white stucco house in one of South Los Angeles' poorest neighborhoods, with a used washing machine for sale - $25 - in the frontyard.

But to the people who assemble here from throughout Los Angeles - and even from overseas - the house is the Eagle Wings of Enlightenment Center. Presiding over it is the woman some neighbors simply call "the lady who prays."

Step inside the house and there stands Sri Natha Devi Premananda in a bright orange sari, cooking soul food while Native American flute music and the smell of incense float into the kitchen from household shrines graced with mini-lights, burning candles, silk flowers and real poinsettias.

She adds a pinch of salt to a steaming pot and says, "God is everywhere. There is no place God is not. We're all God's children. Some drink. Some smoke. Some fight. Suffering is not restricted to a particular neighborhood. Never was."