By Anil Bedasie
As the nurturer of creative faculties – literature, arts, music, dance and other expressive forms, MahaDevi Saraswati occupies a special place for devotees in the pursuit of learning. Since ancient times, the Hindu calendar marks the fifth day of Phalguna as the most auspicious day to adore this aspect of Divinity for devotees worldwide. It is for this reason that the event known as Saraswati Kaa Samarpan is organized now in its second year.
In one of the most popular scriptures called the Devi Bhagavatam, a conversation between Lord Vishnu and his devotee Sage Narada is mentioned, in which the Lord reveals that the most auspicious time of the entire year to worship Saraswati Maa is on Vasant Panchami. As a gentle and loving Mother, she is easily pleased and will bless her devotees so they can excel in education and other academic pursuits. In 2020, Vasant Panchami will be celebrated on Wednesday January 29th across the world. Here in the New York area, devotees will come together at the Shri Surya Narayan Mandir on Saturday February 1st to honor this Divine Mother in the Samarpan program.
The Sanskrit word “Samarpan” can be translated as “offering”, “adoration” or “paying homage to” and through the various segments of the program, attendees will witness the young devotees of our community who will adore MahaDevi Saraswati in puja, chanting, dance, music, drama, writing through an essay competition and the newest segment of painting or sketching their interpretation of Saraswati Maa in the Painting Exhibition.
One objective of the Samarpan program is to showcase the many youths of our community who are talented in the various art forms. As a trend, many parents encourage their children to learn music and dance, but this event will showcase young devotees in much more than just these two activities. Over the years, our community has offered opportunities for young devotees to participate in cultural competitions, festivals, fund raising shows, parades and celebrations of our major parbs within Sanatana Dharma. Many of them will be featured in the Samarpan program as well.
Some of the young devotees wish that more can be done to showcase their talents and urge umbrella organizations, community leaders and event organizers to find ways to give these future ambassadors of tomorrow a platform to promote their rich cultural heritage.
Once again, the organizers have put together an ambitious program which includes a number of segments. Each segment will showcase MahaDevi Saraswati’s divine functions or roles in which she bestows special blessings upon her devotees.
The first segment is the hawan, which will pay homage to this Divine Mother through prayers, chanting of Her 108 names and will conclude with performing the rituals. It will be led by a number of young spiritual leaders and is very important because the organizers wishes to appeal to all young devotees in the community to attend and participate in the group rituals to receive the blessings of MahaDevi Saraswati.
Next there will be the chanting of the Medha Suktam (a sacred hymn honoring the Goddess) by a number of young pandits of our community. Pandit Satish Deo, a Sanskrit expert has translated this very sacred shloka from the Vedas which will be chanted as per Vedic requirements. The Medha Suktam is dedicated to MahaDevi Saraswati and provides tremendous blessings to the devotee if chanted with faith and devotion and is available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MhuUTR8fgk.
The next few segments consist of an invocation dance by a well-known community based dance school, a drama skit performed by members of a mandir’s youth group, and an inspirational message by a spiritual leader of our community. In the sangeet segment of the program, the organizers will feature some of the talented young devotees who will present a number of recently released Saraswati bhajans from the MahaDevi Saraswati Music Collection called “Awakening Consciousness From Within.” There is a new segment called the Painting Exhibition where the artists of our community will submit either a painting or sketch of MahaDevi Saraswati so that the attendees can admire their artwork. These masterpieces will be displayed in the Surya Mandir during the program.
Anand Sayroo, the coordinator for the sangeet segment said that “the language of music is universal and MahaDevi Saraswati is the source of all Indian classical music as written in the Sama Veda.” For him and other talented musicians, this event is a humble tribute to Her and an opportunity to thank the Divine Mother for Her blessings. He has worked with a number of the young vocalists who will be singing these recently released Saraswati bhajans. Anand’s overall objective for this segment is to spotlight these devotees with their musical aspirations and would like to encourage the public to attend the event on Feb 1st and listen to these vocalists. In addition, there will be a few well known vocalists of the community namely Dr Deo Balkaran, Sushila Devi and Rajpattie Shiwkaran who will present beautiful Saraswati Maa bhajans as well.
Another segment is the revelation of the winners of the essay competition which was written on Sunday January 19th and open to the youths of our community from age 8 years to 18 years. The response from the community was decent with many participants. They are also encouraged to attend the Saraswati Kaa Samarpan event on Feb 1st to see if their essay scored the highest points by the panel of judges. There are cash prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winners in each of the 3 groups (elementary, middle and high school) in addition to trophies and gifts.
Pandit Ganeshwar Ramsahai is one of the driving forces of the essay competition and opined that we have many talented young devotees who have achieved academically in their respective schools and we need to showcase these exceptionally brilliant students.
The purpose of the competition is twofold. The first is to get young devotees interested so that they can go through the exercise of doing the research of the scriptures and report their findings through their essay writing. The second is an opportunity to learn about the greatness of the deities and facilitate the student’s mind to think differently about his or her relationship with Divinity. They will have a greater understanding of this Divine Mother by attending the event, where they can learn more about the Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom.
Pandit Vyaas Sukul, of the Vishnu Mandir in the Bronx said that knowledge of Divinity referred to as this Eternal Consciousness within is the underlying theme of the drama skit. This short drama will captivate the audience with many messages applicable to mankind today. In the 2019 edition, the members of the Nirvana Humanitarian Group presented a beautiful skit with the simple message that technology is advancing at a fast pace so MahaDevi Saraswati’s blessings are important to keep up with all the changes happening around us.
Just like the 2019 edition, which was well attended with over 400 devotees, the organizers expect a large turnout on February 1st. As a free community event, there will be participation by numerous mandirs, music schools and cultural organizations.
In the interest of time, the event will start promptly at 5 PM. The organizers have worked very hard to coordinate the various segments and would like to extend a very special invitation to devotees to bring their family and friends to this unique event where as a community we can collectively give thanks to this Divine Mother, who is the source of all creativity that flows within us.
For more information, please contact Anil at 718-468-0208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.