Limerick Durga Puja event – pictured are Ladies in traditional outfits enjoying the celebrations. Picture: Vinita Malu
Indian Cultural Association of Limerick hold a grand Limerick Durga Puja event
By I Love Limerick correspondent Vinita Malu
ICAL (Indian Cultural Association of Limerick) has recently organised a Durga Puja event at the Limerick GAA Club. This is the second time ICAL has conducted such an event. The first was in 2019 and last year, many people missed the grandeur of puja due to the ongoing pandemic. This year ICAL held the event with strict adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the government. The devotees were asked to book a slot online to attend the event. Around 500 people attended the well-organized two days event.
Durga Puja also known as Navratri is one of the most significant festivals of the Hindus celebrated all across the world. Apart from being a religious event, this year it was an occasion for reunion and rejuvenation, and a celebration of traditional culture and customs, especially after a long pandemic.
This year the celebrations began with full gusto with the well-decorated idols unveiled for the devotees to seek the blessings. In the middle, the idol of goddess Durga killing Mahishasur with her lion was placed with idols of Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Ganesha (the god of good beginnings) on the left side while Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge and music) and Kartikeya (the god of war) on the right side. A beautifully decorated candle OM symbol (ॐ) was also made that symbolizes the Universe and the ultimate reality.
It is believed that the Maa (mother in Hindi) Durga visits her earthly abode during this time to bless her devotees. Chanting of Mantras, Aartis, Havan, Garba and many other rituals were performed at the event. Delicious and fresh fruits and food were offered to goddess Durga and later were distributed to the devotees in the form of prasad. Even some games like musical chairs, dancing statues, and passing the ball game were organised for the children.
It was good to see people wearing traditional outfits and performing Garba on Bollywood songs. Garba is the longest and largest dance in the world performed during Navratri. This dance form is performed in a circle wherein the circle represents the Hindu view of time. On the last day of the Durga puja event, the devotees immersed the Goddess Durga’s idol in the holy water, also known as Durga Visarjan. Before the immersion, worshippers carried out processions accompanied by the beating of drums, singing, and dancing.
The Navratri festival is held in honour of the divine feminine power Durga. The word Navratri is derived from Sanskrit words ‘nava’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning night. Some people even fast during Navratri and break their fast after Kanya Pujan (puja of young girls).
According to Hindu mythology, the demon Mahishasur had received a boon of invincibility from Lord Brahma, which meant that no man or god could kill him. Mahishasura started misusing his powers by attacking the gods and others. To stop him, all the gods came together to worship, the divine light that came out of all the gods during the puja created Maa Durga. The fight between Maa Durga and Mahishasura lasted for ten days. Goddess Durga killed the demon king on the tenth day, and hence the day is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami.
The Durga Puja festival denotes the victory of good over evil and resurgence of hope and faith that we desperately need in today’s ongoing pandemic time.
“We at ICAL were happy to conduct this year’s Durga Puja event and looking forward to organise many more such cultural events in the future. We are glad that people from all over the Ireland attended the event and made it a grand success,” said Soumen Pahari, Member of ICAL.
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