By Anil Bedasie
On the weekend of Feb 9th – 10th, 2019, devotees of Sanaatan Dharma across the world will celebrate the spring festival of Vasant Panchami which is the most auspicious time period of the year to honor the Divine Goddess MahaDevi Saraswati.
This festival is celebrated in a number of ways based on traditions and local practices and vary depending on the region, country etc. Here in the Tri State area, a number of devotees of our community have come together to celebrate this event in a unique and somewhat unprecedented way.
The event is called “Saraswati Kaa Samarpan”. The Sanskrit word “samarpan” can be translated as “honoring’, “adoring” or “pay homage to” and as the name suggests, this is exactly what will be accomplished during the event – Honoring Maa Saraswati.
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. As an example, she is known as the Goddess of Music hence the Sangeet segment.
The first segment is the hawan rituals which will pay homage to this Divine Mother by the chanting of the Medha Suktam (a sacred hymn honoring the Goddess) along with other prayers and will conclude with performing the sacred hawan. This segment 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.
In one of the most popular scriptures called the Devi Bhagavatam, it describes a conversation between Lord Vishnu and his devotee Sage Narada, 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 the interest of time, the organizers plan to commence this event at 3 PM sharp on the day of the event.
The next few segments consists of an invocation dance by one of the community based dance schools, a drama skit performed by members of a leading community humanitarian organization, and an inspirational message by a spiritual leader of our community. There will also be a number of sangeet segments in which talented vocalists of our community will sing Saraswati bhajans.
There is an essay competition segment which is open to the youths of our community from age 8 years to 18 years. These young devotees are encouraged to research the scriptures and visit one of five writing centers in Queens & The Bronx on Sunday February 3rd from 1 PM to 3 PM to write their essays.
The time allotted is one hour and all writing materials will be provided. They are also encouraged to attend the Saraswati Kaa Samarpan event on Feb 10th 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 generously donated by Navin Phagu of Akash Vaani media. Winners will also have an opportunity to be interviewed by local TV personalities and their essay will be posted on social media as well.
Vocalists from the Sangeet Team will be presenting all Saraswati bhajans dedicated to MahaDevi Saraswati, including a set of recently released tracks. The lyrics of these new songs describe her many names, her importance to devotees, her appearance in this world, her ability to bless devotees with boons (wishes) and the meaning of Her name comprising of the Sanskrit words “saras” and “wati”.
Anand Sayroo, the kirtan leader 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.
Pandit Satish Deo, a Sanskrit expert has translated a very sacred shloka called the “Medha Suktam” from the Vedas which will be chanted as per Vedic requirements in the event. He said, “the Medha Suktam is dedicated to MahaDevi Saraswati and provides tremendous blessings to the devotee if chanted with faith and devotion.”
Pandit Ganeshwar Ramsahai is one of the driving force 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 facilities the student’s mind to think differently about their 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, a member of the spiritual team of the Samarpan Event said that knowledge is key to survival in this world and that technology is advancing at a fast pace so MahaDevi Saraswati’s blessings is important to keep up with all the changes happening around us. This will be expanded in greater detail in the pravachan (spiritual message) and also by the message conveyed by the drama skit.
In conclusion, the event organizers have collaborated with a number of mandirs and other cultural organizations to showcase talented devotees of the community in this event, so they are asking for members of the public to come out in large numbers and spend just a few hours at the beautiful Dayaram Mandir located at 88-40 192 Street in Hollis, NY 11423 on Sunday February 10th. Remember, this is a free community event.
The program will start promptly at 3 pm so do plan accordingly. For more information, please call 718-468-0208 or email Anil Bedasie at email@example.com.