Homage to the Goddess of Wisdom
Pujari Atlanta Group
Pujari Atlanta Group organized 'Saraswati Puja' at their traditional venue, the auditorium of India Cultural and Religious Center (ICRC), on February 12, 2005.
The stage and the idol of the goddess of learning were decorated admirably by the Pujari decoration team. Worship was performed in accordance to traditional Bengali rituals and devotees offered ?Anjali' to the Goddess.
Following the completion of puja at around 1 pm, all members enjoyed the Prasad catered by the Hare Krishna temple.
The afternoon began with an interesting quiz competition for children. Young children had participated earlier in a painting competition. After the quiz, Pujari president Dr. Gauranga Banik welcomed the gathering and introduced the new Pujari executive committee members. That was followed by a joyous cultural program. Veteran Atlanta
personality and Executive Director of Gandhi Foundation, Dr. Giriraj Rao, addressed the gathering and paid homage to late Dr. Jayanti Lahiri in a moving speech.
The first half of the cultural program consisted mainly of performances by young children in the form of songs, dances, recitation and instrumental music. Following that, there were great vocal performances in the form of bhajans, songs, semi-classical, Tagore, and folk songs.
Artists included some of the best local talents such as Mahua Mukherjee, Rakhi Banerjee, Susmita Datta, Tirthankar Dasgupta, and Prasanto Chakraborty. Recitation of modern Bengali poetry by Richa Sarkar was also entertaining. Pranab Lahiri and Suzanne Sen rendered an excellent ?Shruti Natak' in English: ?The Leaves Fall' by Buddhadeva Bose.
Atlanta's Sangeetkar group, led by Amitava Sen, mesmerized the audience by their classical instrumental group performance. At the end, a group called 'Shrotar Asar' presented a nice range of patriotic group songs and recitations.
Pujari released the spring edition of their literary publication, 'Anjali' to mark this occasion. Photos of this event can be viewed at www.pujari.org.
- Samaresh Mukhopadhyay
BAGA, the oldest Bengali organization locally, celebrated Saraswati Puja festivities on February 12, 2005. The event took place at Shamrock Middle School in Decatur.
The festivities began at 11:00 a.m. with Puja, followed by pushpanjali (offering of flowers to the Goddess chanting mantras from the ancient scriptures), arati, prasad, and lunch. A cultural program followed. Many young local children showed their talents by reciting poems, singing, dancing, playing different musical instruments and taking part in other cultural activities.
The main attraction was the quiz competition The Answer Is... done in a format similar to the popular television quiz show Jeopardy. This was a computerized quiz show and, was a huge hit with the audiences. There was a preliminary written component in which over fifty children from Elementary, Middle and High school took part. From among them, twelve finalists were selected based on their performance in the written test, and were divided in four groups of three each. Each group had a student from high school level, one from middle school and one from elementary school. All the finalists received financial prizes totaling to $375, with the winning team comprising of Ananya Chakraborty, Shayan Rakhit and Suborno Dev Chatterjee winning $50 each. The prizes were distributed by a senior member of the community, Mr. Partha Mukherjee (Sr).
This was the last official activity of the outgoing executive committee who later presented their annual report highlighting their activities throughout the year and presenting the yearly financial statement. After all the celebrations, a guest artist from New York sang old and new modern Bengali songs, both filmi and non-filmi. The festivities ended at around 8:30 p.m. after dinner. About four hundred people took part in the celebrations.
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