Grayslake temple celebrates Navratri in style

Children doing Ram Leela
HG Durga Ma Devotees web
Devotees- a large number of women – propitiating Ma Durga

CHICAGO: The ten-day-long Dasara -Dussehra festival at Hindu Mandir of Lake County in Grayslake, a Northside Chicago suburb, culminated with a spectacular burning of giant effigy of demon king, Ravana as a mark of the victory of good over evil on Saturday, September 30.

A huge crowd of more than 3,000 Indian community members participated enthusiastically in the various events of the Dussehra festival at Grayslake Temple such as Pujas, Havans, Kanya Pujan, Mata Ki Chowki, Bathukamma, Ram-Leela, Ravan Dahan, and a day-long open Mela with many stalls of clothes, jewelries, businesses, information, services, and mouth watering Indian foods.

A large throng of ladies visited the temple early mornings and nights with full devotion and participated in festivities in honor of Goddess Durga or Shakti. Temple priests – Pt. Anil Joshi, Yogesh Pandya, and Ramacharya – conducted early morning Arati, chanting, Abhishekams, Alankarams in Nine different roopas of Nava Durga Ma and Ashtami Havan with all the Vedic rituals and mantra.

Devotees observed ritualistic fasts and did Pujas. Durga Ma decorations were done by Vernika and Sharda Dagar. The Temple also organized nine-night open Garba and Dandia Raas for the ladies. In the evening, men and women gathered; clad in their vibrant clothes to play Garba and Dandia (Gujarat’s folk dance). The folk melodies, singing and dancing made a fascinating sight on all the Navratri nights. This mesmerizing event was organized by Vipin Patel, Kunal Mehta and team.

South Indian ladies performed Bathukamma Panduga during Navratri. This is a flower festival where women create beautiful flower arrangements and decorations in seven concentric layers in the shape of the Temple Gopuram. ‘Bathukamma’ literally translates into ‘Mother Goddess come Alive’. The flower arrangements are an attempt to invoke the Goddess and seek her blessings. This festival is celebrated for nine days starting Bhadrapada Amavasya (also known as Mahalaya Amavasya) till Durgashtami.

HG Rama Leela by kids web
Children doing Ram Leela

On the eighth day, there was a ritual of Kanya Puja that was attended by a large crowd. Girls were seen as the avatars of Goddess Durga washing their feet and then tying moli (red thread) around their wrists. These girls were seated in a line and given gifts and Prasad. Anu Gupta organized a grand Mata Ki Chowki in honor of the Goddess Durga and also Rama-Leela.

On the tenth day celebrated as Vijay Dashami, 70 young children performed “Ram Leela” dramatizing the historic tale of Rama defeating Ravana and uniting with Sita as an integral part of the festivities. Children were dressed up as the characters of the great epic Ramayana like Lord Rama, Lakshman, Sita, Ravan, Hanuman, Jambuvant, Vanar sena etc. The splendid Dussehra festivities ended with Ravana’s effigy burning.

The Temple Managing Committee thanked committee members for their support and effort besides disciplined devotees. Kamal Gupta and his team served sumptuous food to all the devotees on the occasion. He also thanked local vendors and devotees for their active participation. Mela was put together by Dr. Yogendra Kumar, Madhup Dhoan and Ameet Gupta.

Geetha Patel

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