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Kids at the Forefront During BAGA’s Saraswati Puja

March 2006
Kids at the Forefront During BAGA’s Saraswati Puja

A wet and cold February day, failed to dampen spirits at Bengali Association of Greater Atlanta's (BAGA) Saraswati Puja festivities in Shamrock Middle School, Decatur, Ga.

The day began with Puja (worship), followed by pushpanjali (offering of flowers to the Goddess chanting mantras from the ancient scriptures), arti, prasad, and lunch.

For Bengalis, the celebration takes place on the day of Basant Panchami, the fifth day of Spring in India. It also happens to be the time when academic year for the schools in Bengal. The belief is that students start the new academic session with blessing from the goddess. Thus, traditionally, school-going children are the main participants in the activities of this celebration - and Atlanta was no exception.

A cultural program showcased the talent of young children who sang, danced, played music and recited poems. A quiz competition The Answer Is... tested all the participants with its Jeopardy-like format. This computerized quiz show was a big hit with both its participants and the audiences alike. Over 50 children participated in a preliminary round, which included a written test. Nine finalists were selected based on their performances in the written test, and were divided in three groups of three each. The finalists received cash prizes at the end of the quiz show. The over-400 people in attendance rounded off the festivities after dinner.

The celebration was also the last official activity of the outgoing executive committee, on behalf of which the outgoing president, Mamata Paul, presented the annual report highlighting the activities of the organization throughout the year, and also presented the yearly financial report. A new committee was elected for 2006-2007. The new members are Kiriti Gupta, president, Anil Chakraberti and Dr. Abir Mullick, joint vice presidents, Dr. Dibyendu De, secretary, and Dr. Bhaskar Dutta, treasurer. BAGA is the oldest organization in Atlanta area serving the Bengali community locally and from the neighboring states.

- Soumitra Chattopadhyay

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