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A Puja to invoke Saraswati in New York

world Updated: May 30, 2007 12:22 IST

Over three thousand devotees as well as Jain and Hindu monks took part in the '24 Tirthankaras and Sarasvati Puja' on Long Island in New York.

The puja was organised to promote unity of religions, non-violence and wisdom, said Naveen C Shah, the organizer and sponsor of the event.

Sarasvati, common to both Hinduism and Jainism, is the goddess of education and wisdom. Tirthankaras, Jainism believes, were enlightened beings. The last in the lineage was Lord Mahavir, a contemporary of the Buddha.

During the over two-hour ceremony, all participants recited mantras (in Sanskrit and translated in Hindi and English) and performed the rituals under the direction of Prof UR Daga, a scholar of Jainism and Indology from Jodhpur.

The puja concluded with 'aarti' according to Hindu and Jain rituals. Gujarati brunch and Rajasthani dinner was served to all present at the venue, Hofstra University's David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex in Hempstead.

The over $100,000 raised through the event would go to several religious organisations.

Shah is a Certified Public Accountant who has been associated with many religious organisations. He had organised Padmavati Devi Pujan for over 2,000 people in 2001.