This year, Tauranga, a city in New Zealand, celebrated Saraswati Puja in a community hall for the first time. Saraswati Puja or Vasant Panchami is celebrated on the 5th day of the month of Basant when the Goddess Saraswati is worshipped and celebrated as the Goddess of learning, arts and music.
This Saraswati Puja comes with a twist. Traditionally pujas are conducted by male Brahmin purohits. However, this puja at Tauranga was conducted by two women, Pradipta Mukherjee and her close friend Debjani Mukherjee.
Traditionally women in India conduct puja at home. Pradipta thought there was no reason not to extend the same in the community too. If any man can perform a puja, so can a woman, as long as they learn and perform within puja guidelines. With this idea in mind, Pradipta commenced on this venture to start this new journey.
Pradipta learned the scriptures over the last few months while organising the puja logistics and a small group of keen volunteers. Tauranga is a small town in New Zealand without sufficient access to Indian puja items. Despite these little hurdles and struggles along the way, the ladies worked hard to put together the puja very successfully.
It was also an occasion of immense fulfilment for Pradipta, who has been worshipping the Goddess since she was a little girl. Her wonderful voice reverberated through the hall as she completed the proceedings with renditions of a few Rabindra Sangeet songs, accompanied by a joyous audience.