The Saraswati Puja is one of the many festivals that Hindus celebrate all over the world. It is a festival which is celebrated in honour of the Goddess of Education, Knowledge and Intellect – Maa Saraswati.
Each year the festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of “Magha”— the day is called ‘Vasant Panchami’. Vasant Panchami heralds the advent of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and this festival marks the first day of Spring. It is a season of inspiration and passion, and it a time to understand and appreciate the blessings of being educated.
Goddess Saraswati endows devotees with the power of speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning, viz: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She has sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus — the symbol of true knowledge — in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on a string instrument called the “Veena”. She is dressed in white — the symbol of purity — and rides on a white swan that symbolises “Sattwa Guna” or purity.
Knowledge is infinite, so is our ability to learn. The irony is that our education is limiting. Formal education is a methodical effort towards learning facts and it focuses only on career mindedness and advancement. It teaches us how to make a living. But does it teach us the art of living? We have come to accept literacy for education. To find identity, and the meaning of our very existence on this earth, we need the consciousness of a finer Being. That finer Being is Goddess Saraswati.
The home is the first school where education and learning take root. As parents we aspire to inspire our children towards art and culture, honesty and discipline, patience and virtue, self-control and humility, and etiquette, which are vital to character development, and which go beyond the course books in schools. An evolved human being is not only the product of an educational institution, but a sublime blend of the environment and culture of his home.
As we progress in life, we must ask ourselves if our education has enabled us to become morally responsible scholars and citizens, sensitive to our culture and adaptive to our surroundings, whether it is protecting us from the corrosion of material greed and whether it has made us fair in our karma or deeds.
These are rhetorical questions, the fundamental act of self-evaluation and self-exploration begins when we ask ourselves these simple questions. It gives us a sense of direction – how far we have come and how far away we are from our destination. It tells us if we are justifying the privileges we enjoy as educated human beings. Most importantly, it tells us how much more we need to learn, because when we are finished learning, we are finished living. Learning is a life-long process and therefore we count on Maa Saraswati’s blessings for as long as we live. She represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness.
However, the most significant aspect of this day is that children are taught their first words on this day, for it is considered an auspicious day to begin how to read and write. During the puja, students place their textbooks and pens on Her altar, along with the sacred books. In India, all general academic institutions remain closed to celebrate the Festival.
The Hindu Heritage Society celebrates the Vasant Panchmi Festival each year, with the same vigour and enthusiasm, to invoke the Goddess of Learning, Maa Saraswati At our celebrations we invite young students to partake in puja and cultural events of music, drama and dance, to honour Goddess Sarawati.
It must be understood, though, that we are all students at every stage of our lives, as we progress towards maturity, for the learning process never ceases to exist.
Our celebrations are for everyone alike, young or not-so-young, and we extend a very warm welcome to the devotees to join hands in celebrating the occasion of Saraswati Puja.
May Goddess Saraswati’s blessings be with you at every step of the way.
“The SNATAN DHARAM” is Hindu’s oldest religion and it is impossible to determine when and how this Religion was established. It is firmly believed that God himself established this Religion.
Hindus firmly believe this Universe has been created by THE GOD and we are his children. He is the source for providing our daily needs. From our Vedas, it is evident that nature, all living beings and planets are all part of GOD.
GOD informs of Lord Brahma created the Universe and incarnated in many other forms to protect and re-established the Religion. Today there are many Hindus living in various parts of the world and are very closely associated with strong belief in Sanatan Dharam.
At the beginning of the time Hindu Religion and culture was very well preserved. As time passed, Hindus went through very difficult times that had a significant impact on the Religion and Culture.
Five thousand years ago Lord Vishnu incarnated in form of Vedveyasa to protect and preserve the Hindu Religion and Culture. With help from Lord Ganesh and Lordless Saraswati, Vedveyasa added a new dimension to the Sanatan Daharam through the publication of Vedas and Purans.
Based on the Hindu Calender Vedveyasa birthday falls on …????…and is very widely celebrated by all Hindus around the world. This day is called Guru Purnima and dedicate to our Rishis and Gurus who have set a solid foundation for our Culture and Religion. Today we are proud to say how rich we are in terms of knowledge our Gurus have passed onto us and our generations to come.
Guru Purnima is a special calendar event in the Hindu Heritage Society (HHS) programs. Since the interception of HHS, various programs have been conducted to reflect significant contributions Gurus have made to the mankind. Some activities HHS has taken in recent years include:
Gurus of different faiths and their significance
- Krishna Lila
- 108 Shiva Ling Worship
- Recital of 1000 names of Lord Vishnu.
- Recital of 1111 Lord Hanuman Chalisa
- Recital of 36 hours Ramayana
- Recital of 1000 names of Aadi Shakti mata tripur sundari.
It is important we remember our Gurus and with these thoughts HHS welcomes you to join us in sharing our dream for our coming generations. It is truly said without culture and religion no society will exist, and it is the right time now to think and dwell on the wonderful work our Gurus did.
Durga Puja is an annual Hindu festival the Hindu Heritage Society observes to celebrate the eternal battle of good over evil. It is the worship of the power of good over evil.
As the bright and beautiful weather begins to descend upon us, the Society prepares to celebrate our Spring festivities of Durga Puja. Our celebrations in the past have always meant different things for different people – devotion and worship, bonding with friends, family and sponsors, cultural activities, and not forgetting the excellent food. The echo of mantras, bhajans, religious discourses, mixing with the fragrance of incense, transform the Community Centre into a Puja mahol, perhaps reminding us of the images of Durga Puja in Bengal, where it is widely considered to be the most significant socio-cultural event .
Our celebrations include the iconic representations, or Murti of Shri Durga, which depicts riding a lion and in her ten hands wielding ten weapons with which she destroys evil.
We wait with great enthusiasm throughout the year for the day when we welcome Goddess Durga. Our celebrations are marked by a medley of events – religious, cultural and culinary.
No matter what your interest, we promise this year too, there will be something to put a smile on your face.
The Legend of Goddess Durga
The legend and story of Maa Durga are manifold. According to the most popular belief, the male Gods of Heaven created the wrathful Goddess, Durga, who is an incarnation of Maa Sati – Lord Shiva’s consort. A powerful demon named, Mahishasur who could easily change his form from human to buffalo dethroned Indra, the king of Heavens. This demon was bestowed by a unique boon from Brahma, whereby neither Man nor God could defeat him. Chaos and dismay prevailed through the entire Heaven. All Gods were de-throned of their golden seats. Defeated and disheartened, the Gods requested the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) to save them from destruction.
The Supreme power and the mother of all Gods and Goddesses, Maa Durga, or Shakti, is the ultimate fundamental or primordial being and the demon slayer. Devi Durga dawned on earth to establish the supremacy of goodness over evil. In a battle between Maar Durga and the Gods and demons,fought over a span of ten days, Maa Durga wins. Durga Puja is a way to celebrate this eternal manifestation of truth and purity. She is a pillar of graceful beauty, motherly, and the strong and valour warrior.
All other Gods bestowed their powers on this most beautiful, gracious and eloquent Devi.
Her victory is the triumph of good over evil, the destruction of vasanas or subtle impressions, desires and the realisation of Divinity itself.
How People Celebrate this Event
One element that makes Durga Puja an experience unforgettable is the: Culture. Year-after-year the Indian community comes together to celebrate this auspicious occasion. It is an occasion of spiritualism, celebration of victory, dance, music and everything else that make our culture unique. For most, it is a time to relive the magic of Bengali culture. But more than just the heartfelt enjoyment of culture, Durga Puja has a deeper significance for all – it is triumph over evil, the self-ego.
On the bright fortnight of the month of Ashwin, the nine-day festival of Navratri begins with much fanfare.
A special ritualistic worship of Shri Durga Devi is conducted during this festival, which includes the recitation of the Durga Saptashati
Devotees initiate themselves of the Nirvana Mantra Jap, viz: Aim Hreem Kleem Chaamundaayei Vichche.
Maa Durga (or Kaali, the Goddess of Strength for Protection & Valour) is worshipped for the first three days, followed by worship of Maa Lakshmi (The Goddess of Wealth) for three days, and lastly Maa Saraswati (the Goddess of Knowledge, Intellect & Education), for the final three days.
Three days are allocated to indicate the discipline and training to be practiced at the three levels of personality, namely, Physical, Mental and Intellectual, to achieve the goal set for each type of worship. The nine days of spiritual discipline are only symbolic; it requires an ongoing life-time effort to achieve the aims.
Religious discourses are imparted by the learned; Kirtans and Bhajans create an atmosphere of piousness and purity. Devotees, whilst keeping a fast observe the Devi Jaagran – overnight recitals of devotional songs to Maa Durga. In the discourses, Durga Saptashi or the Devi Mahatmya is recited and explained by Saints and Seers.
On the Navami or Vijaydashmi day, devotees observe Kanya Puja, where nine girls below the age of 10, are worshiped as the embodiment of the Divine Mother. They are fed sumptuously, and amongst other things, presented with new clothes.
On the last day of Navratri, a grand Yagn or Hawan is held, with mantras of Devi Durga, in praise of Her.
Vijaydashmi, also known as Dessehra is celebrated as the day of victory to rejoice Shri Durga Devi’s triumph over the demons led by Mahishsur. It is essentially a festival in honour of Maa Durga, the Divine Mother, who fought with him for nine nights and killed him on the evening of the 10th day.
Dussehra is an important festival celebrated mainly in India, Nepal and Bangladesh with great joy and fervor. Vijayadashami – is a symbol of Victory of good over evil. After nine days of Navratri- Durga Puja, follows Vijaydashmi
As per legend, also on this day Bhagwan Ram killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama’s wife Sita to Lanka.