Tag Archives: Durga

Wait for Shiuli

Durga Puja is a special time for a Bengali. We start planning weeks before the festival. My father had planted a shiuli(night jasmine) flower tree in our house. This flower blossoms during Pujo. It has amazing fragrance which reminds one of festivals. There are songs and poems dedicated to this flower.

This year I was at home after a long time. Everyday from the month of July, the first thing I did after getting up is to go and see the tree. There were no flowers even though the tree was watered regularly. I used to ask my mother if the tree needs any manure. My mother’s response was “Patience, the season is yet to come”. This continued till September. I was excited the day I saw the first few flowers. It meant Pujo is coming. I ran indoors and informed, shiuli flowers have come. This just reminds me, everything has a specific time whether its studies, opportunities or vaccine. One needs to be patient and things will happen. We have a tendency of rushing towards things inspite of being aware of haste causing failures. Often in this process we ignore many things. The seasonal flowers remind us to wait for the right time.

The years 2020 and 2021 taught us the important lesson of being patient. Life is precious. We need to spend time with our near and dear ones instead of running behind worldly things. The shiuli flowers only blossom during season. Let us sit back and enjoy the moment.

Navaratri Gifts

Navaratri is a special time when the nine incarnations of Goddess Durga are worshipped. I got posted out of my hometown when I started working. I requested my mother to give me any spare kitchen items. She gave me six plates and bowls out of which none of the two plates or bowls were same. I asked her, how she got this unique set. She said those are my Navaratri gifts. Small girls (Kumari) are worshipped during Navaratri as Goddess. This is called Kumari puja. As part of this ceremony, they are invited, a small dot with vermilion is placed on their forehead. They are then offered food cooked specially for this occasion. After this they are gifted with plates, bowls and sometimes toys. As kids we used to have invitation from numerous houses in our neighborhood. If we were unable to make it, they would send the gift to our house. It used to be fun to get up early in the morning, take bath, wear new clothes and go for the ceremony. The festivities would turn even bigger from the 7 day (Saptami), when we used to visit the Bengali community. There we would have a huge idol of Goddess Durga along with her four kids. We would offer our prayers and meet up with everyone. Although these festivities are only for few days but we used to start preparing three months before.

This year I decided to offer gifts to Goddess through Kumari puja. Luckily all the Kumaris I knew were fond of books which happens to be my hobby as well, so I gifted them classics. All the kids were happy. We also visited the Durga Puja organized by Bengali Association of Pittsburgh. These festivities always take me back to my carefree school days. On the tenth day we have Dashami when the idols are immersed in water. We take blessings of our elders and wish everyone “Happy Dussehra”.

A spiritual exploration

Last week a colleague of mine suggested that I should visit the Washington Kali Temple. I immidiately contacted my friend asking them if they are ready to visit that temple over the weekend. They agreed and so on Saturday morning, we all got ready by 10:00 am. The sun shone brightly and there was a cool breeze. It almost seemed as if the weather itself is taking us towards the temple. After a drive of 40 minutes we reached our destination.

The Washington Kali Temple

The Washington Kali Temple

Apple trees around the temple

Apple trees around the temple

Surrounding Greenery

Surrounding Greenery

As we reached there, we were greeted by beautiful apple trees. The temple stood amidst large green trees. It was so peaceful that one can meditate. As we entered the temple, we were greeted by this beautiful quote by Swami Vivekananda. This reminded me about the story of the Chicago Conference attended by Swami Vivekananda.

Beautiful words by Swami Vivekananda

Beautiful words by Swami Vivekananda

A part of temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva, another to Navagraha and the rest was to Goddess Kali and Goddess Durga. We refer to our Goddesses as Ma(mother). We even saw a mongoose eating peacefully in the temple compound and realized that everyone is welcome at the doors of the Ma. The photos of Ramakrishna Paramhans dev reminded me of my home. The compound had beautiful flowers. After a long time I had come across such a beautiful representation of co-existence of humans, animals and trees. It was so serene that we forgot all our worries and started praying.

A beautiful sight

A beautiful sight

Beautiful flowers around temple

Beautiful flowers around temple

We were told by the priest that its an auspicious day and there will be a small ceremony. We attended the ceremony and offered our prayers. Then we had the bhog. I almost felt at home, as if my mom had prepared lunch for me since I had returned after a long time. The peace and tranquillity of the temple continued with us all throughout the weekend. Thanks to my friends Ravi and Saritha for this trip. In our fast paced lives, we often forget the importance of small things like spending some time with ourselves, praying and appreciating everything around us. But once we do these, life becomes so much more beautiful. Don’t you think so?