Skip to main content

Durga Puja celebrations in Columbus - A reflection of Indian culture in the West

An experience of taking part in a typical Bengali Durga Puja celebrations in Columbus, OH. It was an official invitation from the COBCA (Central Ohio Bengali Cultural Association) to attend Durga Puja celebrations.

In West Bengal, the 8th day i.e Durgaashtami day during Dussehra festival, is celebrated as Durga Puja. The huge clay (or plaster of paris) idol of Goddess Durga is beautifully decorated in a special way which is unique of Bengalis.
Idol of Goddess Durga Devi
COBCA, Columbus, OH
It was a high school in Columbus, OH. As it was the month of October, the weather was getting colder.

On entering inside, the invitees / guests were offered prasad (prasad is the food that is offered to god at the time of puja i.e worship and then this is distributed to the devotees). And then they were directed to a closed auditorium where cultural programme was going on like Hindi songs, Bengali folk dance etc.

After the cultural programme was over, devotees / guests entered into the hall where the beautifully decorated idol of Maa Durga Devi was installed. The ambiance was very homely and makes the Indians feel at home / in India. The hall was crowded mostly with Bengali people and of course people from other Indian states too. There were few non-Indians too were seen taking part in the celebrations.

Devotees were getting ready for the final part of the pooja which is a grand event. Yes, it is the aarti i.e waving lighted camphor to the goddess. Aarti is typically accompanied with typical Indian drum beat, beats of cymbal, blowing of conch and ringing of bells.

Blowing of conch during aarti is a typical Bengali culture and also followed in the North. South Indians do not follow this tradition of blowing conch at aarti time.

Anyway, there was a typical Indian culture in a distant / far away foreign land which might have made every Indian feel proud of their rich cultural heritage. As aarti began, devotees started beating the drums, blowing conch, ringing bells and most of them were deeply engrossed in typical Bengali dance moving in circles with clapping hands accompanied with rhythmic drum beats.

"Olololololoo! Olololololoo!" The ecstatic screams / shouts of the devotees reverberated in the hall along with the rhythmic drum beat. The entire hall was filled with divine vibrations.

For a while people / devotees were lost in a different spiritual world. There was too much of Indianness in the air around and devotees were dancing with high spirits. That was truly Indian in the mid-west America. Finally, it concluded with the aarti and some of the devotees were still enjoying divine bliss.

The divine ecstasy culminated with aarti distribution to devotees and prostration before Goddess Durga Devi. Everyone got back to the present material world, started wishing one another, saying good bye / see you to each other and thus the devotees dispersed.

That was a wonderful experience of Durga Puja in a Western land - far far away from my motherland yet with a homely feeling.

Popular posts from this blog

Procedure For Bhogi Pallu

The 1st day of the 4-day Sankranti festival is celebrated as Bhogi Panduga by the Telugu people. The Telugu word 'Panduga' means festival. This festival has much of social significance than religious importance. It is a festival of family gathering. Telugu people are engaged in many activities on Bhogi / Sankranti day.

Lyrics and meaning of Brahmamokkate Parabrahmamokkate

This Keertana is one of the best and most popular compositions of Saint Annamayya in which he describes the universal truth of oneness and omnipresence of God in all the creatures alike. The Keertana is sung in Bouli / Mayamalava Goula Ragam.

Tandanana Ahi Tandanana Pure Tandanana Bhala Tandanana
Brahmamokkate Parabrahma Mokkate Prabrahmamokkate Prabrahmamokkate

The word 'tandanana' is a slang used in the local folklore to give a rhythmic punch to the folk music. While the words 'ahi' 'pure' and 'bhala' are words of appreciation in the local language (different dialects of Telugu). The second line describes the oneness of God.

Kanduvagu Heenadhikamu Lindu Levu Andariki Srihare Antaratma
Indulo Jantu Kulaminta Nokkate Andariki Srihare Antaratma

There is no class distinction like high or low and it is Sri Hari (the Supreme God) who dwells in all the beings. There is even no distinction among the creatures as it is He who dw…

Lyrics Of Varalakshmi Song Etla Ninnettu Kundunamma

Varalakshmi Vratam is a very important pooja performed by the women on 2nd Friday that falls before full moon day in the auspicious Hindu month of Sravan