Durga Puja is one of the most famous and important festivals in West Bengal. This ten-day Hindu festival celebrates the victory of goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura.
This is a time for everyone, no matter what religion, to dress up in new clothes and go out with family and friends to enjoy the celebration. The young people at shuktara eagerly await this holiday. They love to go out visiting the magnificent pandals that house the Durga sculptures, complete with her lion mount and her ten arms wielding ten weapons.
The boys and girls go out together in two big vehicles over two days. The older boys go out again later on both those nights. This means that Sunil, who absolutely loves the Pujas, gets to go out four times!
When Sanjib came on 23rd September with food for both of our homes, he promised to come back with clothes for the girls and the boys closer to Durga Puja.
Just check out our latest boy Subhash here who has received his first gift of a new shirt! Below are all the boys with Sanjib and a photo of Muniya and Lali with their gifts of perfume. Everyone looks very happy.
Thank you to Sanjib Shaw for being so generous, and Happy Puja!
We obviously prefer to give you good news and happy stories but the reality is when you are caring for a large number of young people living together accidents do occasionally happen.
About a week ago Rajesh damaged one of his fingers by slamming it in the kitchen door. He spent the night at hospital where they bandaged his finger.
A few days after his overnight stay he was taken back to the hospital for the dressing to be removed. The medical staff decided to keep him there for a few days so that his finger could be operated on. Clearly his finger needed slightly more attention than we originally thought.
Rajesh came home from hospital August 3rd - still bandaged and he says in a little pain - but home!
Read more about Rajesh...
Vishwakarma Puja is usually celebrated in the workplace and always on the roof of the shuktara boys house in Kolkata. Essentially this is a Puja where workers have their tools blessed. This is what Wikipedia says about this festival:
It is generally celebrated on 17 or 18 September in Indian states such as Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Tripura. The festival is observed primarily in factories and industrial areas, often on the shop floor. As a mark of reverence the day of worship is marked not only by the engineering and architectural community but by artisans, craftsmen, mechanics, smiths, welders, industrial workers, factory workers and others. They pray for a better future, safe working conditions and, above all, success in their respective fields. Workers also pray for the smooth functioning of various machines. It is customary for craftsmen to worship their tools in his name, refraining from using the tools while doing so. Modern electronic servers are also worshipped for their smooth functioning.
Special statues and pictures of Vishwakarma are normally installed in every workplace and factory. All workers gather in one common place and perform the puja .
Below are more photos from shuktara's rooftop celebration...
Every year in August the 'sisters' of shuktara come to the boys home and tie rakhi on the wrists of their 'brothers' to show their affection. Across most of India the same thing happens - with brothers and sisters who are related by blood but also when that strong family bond is felt between unrelated people. It is a celebration that everyone at shuktara can participate in, and everyone enjoys this festival immensely.
[from Wikipedia] Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit literally means "the tie or knot of protection". The word Raksha means protection, whilst Bandhan is the verb to tie. It is an ancient Hindu festival that ritually celebrates the love and duty between brothers and their sisters. The sister performs a Rakhi ceremony, then prays to express her love and her wish for the well being of her brother; in return, the brother ritually pledges to protect and take care of his sister under all circumstances.
The festival is also an occasion to celebrate brother-sister like family ties between cousins or distant family members, sometimes between biologically unrelated men and women. To many, the festival transcends biological family, brings together men and women across religions, diverse ethnic groups and ritually emphasizes harmony and love. It is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Śrāvaṇa, and typically falls in August every year.