Note from the Magazine editors:We are happy to announce that this year's issue of our magazine Sharod Shomvar is out. Thank you every one for your cooperation and patience. We deeply regret for the delay in publishing the magazine. Please view the pdf in this following link.
We are excited to have Mike & Cara Gangloff from Ironto, Virginia in a musical session where melodies from the heart of the Appalachian will blend with the mystic lore of Bauls. Our cultural show starts from 7 pm at Haymarket Theatre, Squires Student Center. See you on Saturday!
This year our food tickets are limited in number. Please book your tickets well in advance. Our dinner menu will be available soon.
30th September is approaching. Please contribute to this years issue of our magazine "Sharod-Shomvar". You can give us anything that can be published in this family-friendly magazine --
Background and History Bengal is known as the land of festivals. There’s even a saying, if you speak Bengali, that goes, ‘Bangali-r baro maashe tero parbon’, which translates to ‘Bengalis have more festivals than months in a year’. This is indeed, we’re proud to say, true enough as well.
The biggest of them all, though, is undoubtedly Durga Pujo. Everyone that speaks Bengali looks forward to Durga Pujo as a time of festivities, getting together with friends, and having a gala time in general. It’s a religious festival, yes, but like many other religious occasions in India, it transcends religion quite easily and has become a part of culture.
‘Durga Puja’ is Bengal’s own version of what can perhaps be called the Great Autumnal Festival celebrated all over the Indian Subcontinent in various ways and under various names such as Navaratri, Dussehra, Dasain, Bommai Golu or Bathukamma. While in the states of Northern India, it is primarily a commemoration of Sri Ramachandra’s epic victory over Ravana, other parts of South Asia use this occasion to celebrate Divinity in its female form. Another popular name for the ceremony in Bengal is ‘Akalbodhan’ which literally means ‘awakening at an improper hour’—an allusion to the fact that the festivities are held during the ‘night’ of the celestials, i.e. the apparent southward movement of the Sun between the solstices. Hence the Goddess must be woken up from her sleep for her to accept our offerings.
The origins of the festival are obscure. Some scholars believe that it started out as an agricultural fertility ritual, as suggested by the veneration of the Navapatrika or Kola-bou, a collection of nine vegetable components, alongside an earthen image of the Goddess Durga who is identified with Nature herself. Others have theorized that the lion-riding buffalo-slaying deity was propitiated to ensure success in hunting, and still others ascribe the genesis of both the ‘Sharodiya’ (fall) and ‘Basonti’ (spring) variants of the Puja to ancient sacrifices performed in order to prevent outbreaks of diseases that are common in the two transitional seasons. The worship of the ten-armed weapon-wielding goddess, who can put any superheroine from the Marvel multiverse to shame, has been a particularly important observance for kings (and wannabes) who would seek her blessings for victory on the battlefield.
However, we Bengalis add our unique twist to it! Durga is viewed as the daughter of the family, who went to her husband, Lord Siva’s abode—the mighty Himalayas after marriage. During the pujo, she is visiting her parents in the plains of Bengal, two sons and two daughters in tow. Thus, it is a celebration of family reunion. Indeed, the non-resident Bengali tries the mightiest to wrangle a vacation during the week of the Pujo. Failing that, a Bengali will get together with others and organize one for everyone to participate in this celebration of life and love.
Try our special dinner menu to get an authentic taste of Bengal's royal Pujo cuisine.
Be a part of our cultural heritage by celebrating an evening with authentic Bengali dance, drama and music.
Unfortunately our dinner coupons are now sold out. However, our pujo ceremony (including prasad) as well as our celebrated cultural show are absolutely free to attend! Please come to our event and help make it an even bigger success. See you on the 8th!
The Bengali Students’ Association (BSA) is a voluntary, non-profit organization at Virginia Tech. It has been representing the ‘Bangali’ culture at Virginia Tech for the past 7-8 years. Although the organization is comprised of people whose roots are at Bengal, India, we always welcome members who wish to be a part of the Bangali culture. Our main event is the Durga Puja which usually takes place in October. Apart from that we organize the Saraswati Puja in February, and also arrange for a ‘beginning of school’ picnic in mid-August.