Houston Bengalis Celebrate Saraswati Puja


HOUSTON: Saraswati Puja is held very close to the heart of Bengalis. Being the goddess of learning and wisdom, not only is goddess Saraswati very important to the students, but also to the scientists, researchers, professors associated with academia and everyone at large. Somehow, this puja day also has a connotation of what we call Valentine’s day in the west. Decked out in their bright yellow (Basanti) saris on Basanta panchami day, young girls attend Saraswati puja in their schools/colleges/universities or at home and young men in their crisp kurta pajamas are out to woo the young girls.

PSGH organized Saraswata puja celebrations at the Aliana community center on Feb 9, under the leadership and guidance of priest Dr. Bishnupada Goswami.

As is the custom, students kept some of their books at the idol’s feet asking for her blessings. Young children who have not started writing yet, underwent the ceremony of “Haathe Khori”, where the priest helps the child to write on a slate board with chalk. Saraswati mother’s idol was beautifully decorated with garlands of marigold and she sat on her swan, Veena and book in hands in all her splendor.

After the puja, pushpanjali (offering of flowers) and arati ensued, with great devotion. Fruit and bhog prasad were distributed to the attendees and a short musical program was presented by the young talent present. This included vocal, instrumental (keyboard), Kathak dance and recitation.

Although Basant Panchami marks the preliminary preparations for the arrival of spring, the weather was slightly nippy and cloudy in Houston. This did not deter the ladies from turning out in their gorgeous yellow saris, the men in their bright yellow kurtas and the children in their cute yellow Indian outfits. Saraswati Puja is more a puja for the youngsters, and they had the times of their lives and enjoyed thoroughly. The food prepared by the volunteers was very tasty and much appreciated. The puja went off very well, much to everyone’s delight.