For years, Durga Puja in Lucknow has had the traditional Kolkata flavour. What is new this time is that two pujas here will pay tribute to Swami Vivekananda, the patriot-saint whose 150th birth anniversary year is currently being celebrated.
It was the Swami, who on his triumphant return from the West for the second time, started the Durga Puja celebrations at Belur Math, the monastic centre he set up to propagate the ideals of his Guru — Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa — on the outskirts of Kolkata in early 1901.
Over a century later, the Bengali Club here will display Swamiji’s photographs and excerpts of his speeches at the puja pandal to educate devotees, particularly the younger generation, about his teachings.
Arun Kumar Banerjee, general secretary of the Bengali Club, says, “We take this opportunity to pay homage to Swamiji on his 150th birth anniversary. In the past, we remembered Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan.”
“Swamiji is a perfect role model for the people, especially the young. We are hoping to get a good response,” he adds.
The club will also publicise the completion of 100 years of the puja celebrations on its present premises in 2014. Before 1914, the puja organised by Bengali Club was held at other locations. Another puja samiti will also honour the Swami’s memory. The Naveen Sharodiyaotsava, Anand Nagar, Jail Road, is setting up a pandal replicating the hall where Vivekananda’s much-applauded speech in Chicago on September 11, 1893 earned for India and its people a respect that had not come their way before.
Sujay Chatterjee, the assistant general secretary of the samiti, says, “We are setting up the pandal that gives you an impression of the conference hall with cut-outs of Swami Vivekananda and excerpts of his speeches.”
Never afraid to innovate, this puja samiti has built replicas of the Jorasanko Thakur Bari (Rabindranath Tagore’s residence in North Kolkata), the White House and the Meenakshi temple in the past.