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Moscow celebrates Durga Puja for 20th time
Agencies Tags : Durga Puja Posted: Saturday , Sep 26, 2009 at 1708 hrs Moscow: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/moscow-celebrates-durga-puja-for-20th-time/521930/
The Russian capital city Moscow is celebrating Durga Puja for the 20th time in a row this year as more and more Russians are joining the Indian community in the festivities.
It was still the Soviet Union, with curbs on public celebration of religious festivities, when in 1989 enthusiasts came together to make the Puja dream in Moscow a reality.
To bypass the Soviet rules, the first Durga puja was organised in a local House of Culture as an Indian cultural event and two priests were specially flown in from Calcutta.
Over the past 20 years after changing several venues for almost last decade, Durga Puja is annually held in the Inter-Club of the Peoples’ Friendship University, where most of the students from India and Bangladesh study.
“Our first Puja was inaugurated by Swami Lokeswarananda of Ramakrishna Mission. Since then Swami Jyotirupananda who is the founder of Moscow Ramakrishna Math has been conducting our puja and is the president of our Moscow Durga Puja Committee,” Debasmita Moulick of Moscow Durga Puja Committee said.
Down the Memory Lane……. 17th Durga Puja at Moscow in 2006.
Durga puja celebration in Moscow from a humble beginning 16 years back has evolved into a tradition. Though the autumn brings chill in the air, we Indians looks for the warmth that Durga Puja promises to bring along.
This year Durga Puja falls from 29th September to 2nd of October. The puja will be held at the Interclub in the Russian Peoples Friendship University campus (21, Mikhluka Maklaya Street, Moscow).
Swami Jyotirupananda of the Ramkrishna Mission in Moscow is the president of Durgapuja committee and he supervises the religious ceremonies. Kendriya Vidyalaya, Moscow and JNCC Moscow actively participate in the cultural programs and Mrs. Ambassador has traditionally been the Patron of Durga Puja celebrations.
|SAPTAMI||INAUGURATIONPERFORMANCE BY LOCAL ARTISTS:
CLASSICAL SONGS, DANCES AND INSTRUMENTAL
|29th September, 20067:00 pm onwards|
|ASHTAMI||PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN:
PERFORMANCE & COMPETITIONS
|30th September, 20067:00 pm onwards|
|1st October, 20067:00 pm onwards|
The significance of the image
Every year in autumn Hindus worship the Divine Mother Durga in a beautifully decorated image made of different materials like earth, straw, cloths etc. framed in a structure of bamboo and wood. At times images are made of light materials of special water plants or the like. The ten handed Durga in the form of a warrior woman fighting with a demon called Mahisasura and standing on her pet lion is seen mostly in the eastern part of India while in the western part of India she is seen even with eight hands on a tiger. These animals are symbols of strength. To get the complete picture of the worship we see the goddess Lakshmi standing on her right side and goddess Saraswati on the left. Below seated on the right Ganesha with elephant head, the god of success; and Kartikeya, the chief commander of divine army on the left. The primordial energy continuously creating, sustaining and destroying the universe is called Shakti. Mother Durga represents that universal energy and every thing in the universe is her manifestation only. She is the only Reality (God in the form of Mother). In the scripture we find she told to the demon Shumbha, “I am the only one in the universe, who else is there the second one apart from me?” Being the universal energy she is formless and infinite. But she has the power to
take that form which her earnest devotee prays for according to his desire. Sages of India, in their super conscious state saw her divine form and described her various forms. These sages were philosophers also. So they wanted her such forms, which symbolically signified her mighty energy. She in the form of energy is everywhere in all the ten directions. So she is ten handed with different arms in hands representing all types of energy. Some times we see some deity with four hands or eight hands, all these signified all directions, everywhere is their presence. Mother Durga is to destroy evil for her children and protect the good. This is shown by the battle with the demon. She fulfils all kinds of wishes of her devotees. But the devotees who are particular about wealth and beauty, for them she took the form of her daughter Lakshmi with an owl as her carrier. If you want to protect your wealth you must have a night watchman. The owl represents this. Another daughter Saraswati, bestows learning. Veena in her hand represents all kinds of arts. Her carrier is the swan signifying that for acquiring knowledge you are to take the essence out of the inessentials. A swan is said in mythology that it can take milk separating water from it. Mother Durga also takes the form of her son Ganesha, the god of success and affluence. He represents as the god of masses. If you need to feed the masses, a great quantity of food is needed. So lord Ganesha has a big belly. Elephant head signifies that a big body and power is there but it needs calmness of an elephant to attain success in business or any other undertaking. His carrier is the mouse, which stores up food in a hole collecting diligently corns from the fields. Kartikeya, the son of the Mother Durga is seated on a beautiful peacock He is the general of the divine army representing strength and swiftness and a giver of progeny. Hindus worship the Divine Mother Durga devotedly for if she is pleased she can bestow ail these desirables and finally leads one to liberation from the bondage of the world.
(on the photo: the first year student who learn Hindi at Russian state university for the humanities came to celebrate Durga Puja)
A brief account of the story of Devi Durga according to Indian mythology
Mahishasura, the king of Demons, was once granted a boon by Lord Shiva. Unfortunately the new found power went to his head and he started tyrannizing heaven and its inhabitants. The gods, scared and powerless to counter this tyranny, requested Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva to annihilate Mahishashura. In answer to this prayer the three great gods combined their divine powers in the shape of a woman – the goddess Durga. This powerful goddess married Lord Shiva and started preparing herself for her battle with Mahishashura. The gods helped her by arming her with different weapons, one for each of her ten arms.
Durga, Durgotinashini, goddess of deliverance, emerged victorious in her battle with Mahishashura, finally killing him. Peace was restored in heaven and the gods happy. Scriptures detail the mode of her journey. This year the Goddess makes her journey to earth on the horse (Ghotak) and her departure on a swing (Dola). Worshipping Devi Durga is a time-worn tradition. The Puranas reveal that king Suratha, used to worship the goddess Durga in spring – the puja becoming known as Basanti Puja. This tradition has changed since the time Shri Rama hastily worshipped her just before rescuing Sita from Ravana. The time was autumn and the month Ashwin, not in keeping with earlier tradition at all. So it was called ’Akal Bodhan’ (Untimely Worship). Over the years, this Akal Bodhan has become the tradition and in Bengal, Durga Puja continues to be celebrated in the month of Ashwin. In Bengal, goddess Durga is worshipped as a mother rather than the goddess of supreme power.
Maha-Shashti: The sixth day of the moon when Goddess Durga is welcomed with fanfare and gusto. ’Bodhon’ rituals are ferformed when the face of Ma Durga is unveiled.
Maha-Saptami: The first day of Durga puja; commencement of rituals; predawn bathing of ’Kola Bow’.
Maha-Ashtami: The most important day of Durga Puja; celebrating Ma Durga’s victory over Mahishasur; devotees recite the mantras and offer flowers to Devi Durga (pushpanjali) and pray for her blessings; rituals of animal sacrifices; animals are now substituted with ’chalkumro’ (type of pumpkin), cucumber and banana.
Maha-Nabami: The last day of Durga Puja; commencement of ’Sandhi Puja’. Nabami Bhog…Goddess Durga is offered food, which is later distributed among the devotees.
“Sandhi puja” (108 ’Dip’ lighted): The end moment of Ashtami and the beginning of Nabami is the time for Sandhi Puja. At this time Devi Durga transformed into Devi Camunda to kill the Mahishasura (the Buffalo Demon).
Bijoya-Dashami: The day when Goddess Durga accompanied with her children sets for Kailash, her husband’s abode. With a heavy heart the Bengalis immerse the clay idol of Durga in the sacred Ganges bidding her goodbye and earnestly waiting to see her again the next year.
“Sindur Khela” (vermillion game): A major event of Dashami. Married women apply vermilion to each other and greet each other with sweets. It is in the evening when Goddess Durga is immersed Bengalis greet each other with bijoya greetings and men follow the customary ’Kolakuli’ (embrace each other).
The information from site: http://www.moscowdurgapuja.org/schedule.html
Durga Puja is the most important festival of Bengalis. Durga Puja is celebrated with joy all over India, especially West Bengal in worship of Goddess Durga. Singing, dancing, sweets & gaiety are an integral part of the Durga Pooja Festival. People send Durga Puja Gifts to dear ones and express good wishes. Durga Puja, the festival of Bengalis is the worship of ’Shakti’ or the divine power. Most of the religious celebrations in the world have legends surrounding them. The fables are generally the fight between the evil and the good, the dark forces eventually succumbing to the divine. Worship of Goddess Durga is based on myths where Durga symbolizes the divine power.
(the first year student of RSUH are eating prasad)
ACCORDING TO THE INDIAN MYTHOLOGY
Mahishasura, the king of Asuras, through years of austerities, was once granted a boon by Lord Bramha, that no man or deity would be able to kill him. The immense power filled in him the urge to rule over the world. He started to terrorize heaven and the inhabitants. He pervaded the world with his battalion of Asuras and plundered and ruthlessly killed the people. Chaos and anarchy reigned. Gods were driven from heaven and Mahishasura usurped the throne.The Gods scared and unable to combat him, requested Lord Shiva, Lord Bramha, Lord Vishnu to stop Mahishasura’s tyranny. In answer, the three Gods combined their divine energy and summoned up a feminine form so brilliantly glaring that it illuminated the heavens. This combined power fell on the residence of Sage Kattyana in the krishna chaturdashi (fourteenth day of new moon) in the month of Ashwin (September-October). From the glow emerged Devi Durga, a beautiful yellow woman with ten arms riding a lion. Despite her grace she bore a menacing expression, for Durga was born to kill. Fully grown and armed by the gods, beautiful Durga was named “Kattyani” as she is born in the ashram of sage Kattyana. The sage worshipped her for sukla saptami, asthami and nabami tithi then on the tithi of Dashami she killed Masishasura. She was sent forth against Mahishasura armed by symbols of divine power; Vishnu’s discus; Shiva’s trident; Varuna’s conchshell; Agni’s flaming dart; Vayu’s bow; Surya’s quiver and arrow; Yama’s iron rod; Indra’s thunderbolt; Kubera’s club and a garland of snakes from Shesha and a lion as a charger from Himalayas. A fierce battle took place. Finally when Mahishasura in the guise of a buffalo charged against Durga, the Devi beheaded the buffalo and from it emerge Mahishasura in his original form. Durga pierced his chest with the trident and relieved the world from the evil power. That is why she is ’Durgatinashini Durga’, our mother goddess who destroys the evil, protects her devotees and establishes peace and prosperity on earth.
We worship Durga as the mother goddess, the epitome of ’Shakti’ (divine power), to deliver us from the evil and bring peace and prosperity in our lives. But the most interesting part of Durga Puja is that, instead of placing Durga on a high alter and worshipping her from a distance the Bengalis embrace her in their hearts and make her an inseparable member of the family. We welcome Durga to the earth as our daughter who comes at her parents’ home for her annual visits.
Durga stays for four days-Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami along with her children, Ganesha, Laxmi, Kartik and Saraswati and sets for her husband’s abode on Vijaya Dashami.
Durga’s mode of journey to the earth is detailed in scriptures. The modes, an elephant, a horse, palanquin, boat all signify luck or omen which influence the life on earth. The elephant signifies prosperity and good harvest while journey on a horse back indicates drought, a palanquin spells wide spread epidemic and the boat suggests flood and misery.
The worship of Devi Durga in the month of October however owes its origin to Krittibas Ojha’s “Ramayana”. Sree Rama hastily worships Durga,the goddess of ’Shakti’, just before he sets for Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana. According to Puranas, King Suratha, used to worship the goddess Durga in spring. Thus Durga Puja was also known as Basanti Puja. But Rama prepones the Puja and worships the Devi in autumn and that is why it is known as ’Akal Bodhon’ or untimely worship. Over the years, this Akal Bodhon has become the tradition among Bengalis (Bangalis) and in Bengal.