Thursday, October 09, 2008

Two Pujos at New Jersey, 2008

The pujos at Ananda Mandir and Bharat Shevasram Sangha respectively...
we visited them on the evening of Shashthi, after a sumptous lunch at Sabyasachi and Moumita's place, followed by a film at Regal Cinemas and a bit of grocery shopping at Patel's Cash & Carry in Somerset...the pujo at Ananda Mandir seemed a ghorowa pujo, my perception owing much to the thinner but quite-at-ease crowd and the friendly banter that floated to and fro, across the hall when we ousiders entered it for the first was rather chilly that day and the warmth of the gathering was infectious. We left after paying obeisance to the goddess and the ubiquitous round of photography. A tall gentleman in a rust coloured panjabi politely solicited us to partake of bhog. We said we would come back. We had other plans, none of which included paying $40 per head for a single night's dinner. More so when you still haven't outgrown the habit of calculating the rupee equivalent.
Bharat Shevasram was a pleasant surprise for the senses. I wondered at the presence of so many Bangalis when I had already reconciled myself with the significant absence of the commmunity from the place where we live , that is, Somerville. We were greeted by a crowd that jostled but did not push, where sarees and skirts, dhutis and jeans shared wardrobe space, where the infectious rhythm of dhaaker baajna intersected with the American accents of NRIs and an announcement of the "recitation of a kobita", where patiently queueing up for choronamrito, proshad and vegetarian bhog (jeera rice, alur dom, chhola, papad, chutney) did not deter the public from generous donations in dollar notes and where traditional christmas tree decorations cohered with colourful hand-painted thermocol cut-outs of dhaakis. I was impressed at the disciplined mass that offered pushpanjali to the goddess and stood eating a spartan bhog in open spaces around a makeshift tent, respecting the spirit of the festival and the essence of the gathering. The volunteers were simultaneously friendly and firm, the children playful and difficult, the worshippers devout and doubtful but the atmosphere was indubitably peaceful and pious. My heart went out in reverence for the monks at the ashram who were managing so many and so much with so little help and so much humility. God bless us all.

1 comment:

Rahul. said...

Monks have special powers, didn't you know that?


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