It was a drizzling August afternoon in Malmö. Known for being a truly cosmopolitan settlement near to Copenhagen, the fourth largest city of Sweden, once an industrial town, is a home for different ethnicity, languages, cultures and of course, for the festivities. It will not be an exaggeration to say that a person using public transport in and around Malmö will definitely get to hear at least one different language, other than Swedish, at any given point in time! On that afternoon too, different people were speaking in different languages, but, they were bound by an undercurrent of devotion. The Skåne Hindu Center organized a glittering event on the occasion of the arrival of Lord Ganesha. The Ganesh Chaturthi was conceived to be a gala event right from the start and indeed, it turned out to be one, in every single aspect!
The huge auditorium could offer sitting arrangements for more than a couple of hundred devotees. As the afternoon subsided and the evening started to settle in, devotees from different parts of the city, some known, some unknown, from far and near, started to trickle into the auspicious hall. The first glimpse each devotee had was that of the gorgeous looking deity of the Lord seated on a pedestal and glorified by an aura of petals and shrubs. The view was that of a typical “Singhasan” or throne where a citadel of power is placed. In front and below Him laid fruits, flowers and every minute item that was needed for a proper offering and for performing the ritual in the most authentic way possible.
At around six in the evening, the curtains were raised and all the devotees were formally welcomed. A “Shloka” or chanting was the opening note of the evening. Molded in the realm of devotion and etched with a detailed explanation, the starting point reached amazing heights! A “Ganesha Vandana”, through a semi-classical vocal extravaganza, was the next item and a feeling of festivity was surely planted. The “Pujaari” arrived and started with the pious chores along with the accompaniment of Bhajans and chanting. The little kids, who were there to enjoy the evening, and to take home some pieces from the age-old Indian tradition, were by no means pure spectators. A magnificent dance performance by a few of them, offered to Lord Ganesha, was a special attraction of the evening. That was followed by several memorable performances like devotional songs, reading from the text, all done by a host of talented young kids, amply guided by their parents.
The next major event of the evening was the offering of flowers to the feet of the Lord. Everyone present took turns to perform this. The beautiful smell of the “Agarbatti” mixed with the neat preparation for the Puja was beautifully complimented by the perfect decorum showed by each and every devotee. A hymn-like Bhajan, continuing in parallel, added to the charm and delight of the ritual. Before that, several beautiful songs and Bhajans had already scripted memorable feelings of devotion and each singer had poured their heart and soul into their respective performances. The Aarti was the next attraction. It was done together with a group of devotees offering a garland of Aarti songs to the Lord. The songs were unique, because, all the lyrics were in a certain chaste form, however, the style and diction had a tinge of Sanskrit written all over them. The enthusiasm and zeal went hand in hand with the mood of the evening and the magical charm culminated in successful completion of the Puja.
The experience and sharing of it would not be complete without mentioning about the gorgeous and exquisite Prasad served at the end. The sheer grandeur and the variety of items offered to the Lord, and then to the devotees as Prasad could only be believed by seeing. There was also enough of every item to exemplify the sense of prosperity and dignity.
Perhaps, the arrangement was meant to be clinical all the way! Or else, how could one relate the evening to the arrival of the Lord Ganesha, the God of remover of all obstacles ? Perhaps, the execution throughout that evening was meant to be engaging and devotional! Or else, how could one relate the evening to the appearance of the Lord Ganesha, the God of “Buddhi” or intelligence ? Perhaps, the delight in the eyes of the kids was bound to be sparkling! Otherwise, how could one relate the evening to the homecoming of the Lord Ganesha, the beloved kid of Parvati and Mahadeva ?
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