5th Year of Durga Puja Celebrations at VSGH


By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: It was a beautiful autumn morning on Oct 5 and the day was perfect for the auspicious Durga Puja ceremony at the VSGH Center in Houston. The day reminded one of the grand Durga Puja festivities back home in Bengal and brought back nostalgic memories. This year, VSGH celebrated it with great aplomb and gaiety to commemorate its 10th anniversary. Swami Kripamayananda from the Vedanta Society of Toronto did the honor of performing the Puja.


The day began early in the morning with the transportation of the idol of Durga from the temple to the mandap to the beat of the dhak (drum) and kansar ghanta (small gong). The idol was then decorated with garlands and accessories and the Puja ceremony began. The Consul General of India, P. Harish graced the occasion with his wife and daughter. The Puja was ably supported by the VSGH choir and was attended by 350 odd people. It culminated with the beautiful aarati and Pushpanjali.

This was followed by the lunch Prasad and fundraising. Devotees got to enjoy a very pious and holy observation of the Puja. They turned out in their Sunday best and were all very supportive of the event.


This year’s added attraction was the cultural program in the evening. After the VSGH choir, there was an Odissi dance performance of Naba Durga by the Kalaangan School of dance led by Supradipta Datta. The dance depicted the nine forms of Devi Durga and the dancers did full justice to the exceptional choreography.

Commemorating the centennial of Tagore’s publication of Gitanjali for which he won the Nobel Prize and the sesquicentennial of Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, “Beyond Gitanjali” a multimedia presentation of Tagore’s song, poems and prose by invited artistes Prabuddha Raha and Maitreyee Chakraborty was the main featured attraction of the evening. The singers were ably accompanied by Raja Banga on the tabla, Biplab Samaddar on the violin, Alok Roy on the mandira and Sanchali Basu did the narration. The singers mesmerized the audience with a wide variety of Tagore songs from the Gitanjali and led the audience through Tagore’s spiritual journey towards Jivandevata (connection with the Eternal).

The second half of the evening began with the Laya of Shiva, a dance trio presented by Arpita Mukhopadhyay (Bharatnatyam), Piyal Sen Gupta (Odissi) and Keka Kar (Kathak). The dance was a beautiful tribute to Lord Shiva, the Laya Kara or the one who maintains rhythm in the world.

The evening ended with some more songs by the invited artistes including Swami Vivekananda’s favorite Mono chalo nijo niketane and Hindi translations of Rabindra sangeet. Prabudhha Raha from Kolkata was very impressive in his song renditions and Maitreyee from Los Angeles enchanted everyone with her sweet melodious voice. The guru, the former and the shishya, the latter gelled to bring out the best in each other and thanked VSGH for inviting them to Houston. Maitreyee concluded the evening with the Durga stotra Sarvamangala mangalye.

The audience thronged the artistes to congratulate them on a great performance.