Durgotsav in Geneva- Centre Vedantique

by Centre Vedantique

Special thanks to: Sri Amarananda Swami

We follow the rectified Indian calendar for observing Durga Puja. Most of the Vedanta Centres of our Order (The Order of Ramakrishna) in the West observe one- day Durga Puja. Due to the desire of the local Indian Diaspora, we do it on two days during the period of the autumnal Navaratri. From 1973 to 1995, an oil-painting of Devi Durga used to be worshipped. For a decade since 1988, three-day observance of Durga Puja beginning from Mahasaptami was the mode. A Vijaya gathering used to be arranged during that decade on a week-end for cultural activities terminating with a feast.

In a city like Geneva of which the population is less than 10% of that of Paris and is about 2.5% of that of London, the total participation at Durga Puja celebrations in the Vedantic Centre of Geneva is impressive. It stands at about 200. The religious impulse and the nostalgia of the Indian Diaspora living in and around this city of Calvin constitute the raison d’etre of these celebrations.

There are normally three teams which work each year for organising the Durga Puja celebrations:

The decoration is performed each year in a different way by a group of young persons, during their off-time in week-ends, for our images which were made of clay 20 years back in Kolkata. Dismantling the decoration and moving the images to their correct place is also the duty of these young men. Since we do not do the invocation of prâna in the images, the same images continue to be worshipped year after year.

The cultural programme is managed principally by a group of local artists. The challenge is to present an interesting short programme which would be related to the worship of God as Mother, be easily understood and appreciated by members of the Indian Diaspora speaking different languages and by Europeans participating on this occasion.

The cooked food meant for puja and for the congregation is prepared by some ladies under the direction and control of elderly ladies who have learnt the culinary art through family traditions and apprenticeship. The dishes consist of various items prepared with rice, lentil, vegetables, and greens and a moderate amount of spices, and homemade sweets. The distribution of food is through a buffet system.

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