Indian Festival season in USA

                The Forms and Facilities may differ, but the Spirit remains the same. 

                This is what I came to conclude after attending the Dashahara mela at Washington DC center of Iskcon temple earlier this month. And this is also what this blog is about…the spirit of India in us and of Indians in the US 🙂 Before I left for the mela, I had promised one of my dear friends that I’ll share with her some pictures from the fair. Puja season is a time when all Indians in faraway lands get nostalgic about the memories with which they grew up. Sure the ways of celebrating Durga Puja, Dashahara, Lakshmi Puja, Diwali differ in different parts of India, but the spirit remains the same. The victory of good over evil, of light over darkness, of the eternal over the transient!

                These are some of the Durga Puja pics at Washington DC Kali temple (Click on the pics to see an enlarged view). You can enjoy the Dhak here.

Durga Pratima at Kalibari

Devis at Kalibari

                We also regularly attend the Ramakrishna Mission Durga puja. This is held in Briggs Cheney middle school every year. This is how Pujas are usually held abroad in schools by those different Hindu associations that do not own a big temple. The Bhog offered here to the deities and later served to the devotees is to die for! And I suspect this is because of the utmost love and devotion with which each lady prepares her portion of the Bhog. It is like a big potluck party, where everyone comes prepared with a different dish! Everything from the decorations to Bhog-preparation to serving and cleaning up to the various cultural programmes are done by the devotees themselves.

Vedanta Center DC Durga Puja

                Next are some pics of the Dashahara mela at Iskcon DC. We have been attending this one too for quite some years now. It has always been lots of fun with ample activities for the old and the young alike! There were lots of stalls put up – food, clothes, prayer-items, games and so on. There was a bow and arrow game, that drew lots of kids. Another activity involved making one’s own demon using the material provided – straw, paper, marker, threads – and putting it beside the Ravan to be burnt later that night. The metaphor was well driven home with the message that one has to burn the bad qualities that exist within ourselves – anger, greed, jealousy, pride etc.

Make Your Own Demon for Burning alongside Ravan
              There was a game in which one had to throw off the demonhead using rings of smoke. That was the one which caught the maximum attention.

Demon Head
Make the Demon Head disappear

                And finally, I have some videos to share… The first one is a bit poignant that includes Lakshman Rekha (Lakshman’s boundary), Jatayu-Vadh (slaying of Jatayu) and Sita-haran (capturing of Sita). Don’t miss the Vanar Sena Yuddha, it’s hilarious! Lastly, a snippet of the Ravan Dahan here.