Ridgewood Nepalese Society Celebrates Swasthani Brata at New Durga Temple

The Ridgewood Nepalese Society is hosting the annual Swasthani Brata festival at its newly inaugurated and long-awaited Durga Temple and Nepali Cultural Center. This significant event marks the culmination of nearly a decade and a half of tireless efforts and dedication by the Nepali community in New York to establish their own temple.

The month-long festival, which began on January 25th and concludes on February 24th, features daily pooja ceremonies and rituals held from 7 pm to 9:30 pm. Uddab Shastri, the priest of the Durga Temple, emphasizes the festival’s importance for both religious devotion and cultural reflection, stating, “This program holds immense importance in our community, serving as a sacred time for devotion and reflection.”

The Swasthani Brata festival centers around the worship of Shree Swasthani, a Hindu goddess believed to bring good fortune, well-being, and power. Devotees gather each evening to participate in rituals and prayers, seeking blessings for their prosperity.

Shastri explains the role of the “Swasthani Brata Katha,” a 31-chapter Hindu tale narrated during the festival. This sacred book, originating in the Kathmandu Valley, tells stories of gods and goddesses, with a focus on the divine union of Swasthani and Shiva. Devotees believe reciting the Katha connects them with the divine and brings about the fulfillment of wishes.

The significance of the new temple adds another layer of joy to the celebration. After years of fundraising and diligent planning, the Ridgewood Nepali Society finally purchased its own building on May 23rd, 2023, fulfilling a cherished dream for the community. As Rajesh Bhatt, president of the organization, explains, “The building located in Ridgewood, Queens has a temple room, a hall, 4 apartments and 3 office spaces. This will not only serve as a sacred space for worship but also a vibrant hub for cultural activities and community gatherings.”

The journey to securing the temple wasn’t without its challenges. While various organizations and individuals pledged nearly $2.2 million towards the project in 2010 and 2017, only about $1 million has been collected so far. “We believe that the remaining amount will be provided soon,” says Bhatt, “and with that support, we can further enhance the temple, manage its operations effectively, and offer even more programs and services to the community.”

As the Swasthani Brata festival unfolds, it signifies not only the deep-rooted faith and traditions of the Nepali community but also the culmination of their collective dream. The newly established Durga Temple and Nepali Cultural Center stands as a testament to their resilience, unity, and commitment to preserving their cultural heritage for generations to come. The Ridgewood Nepalese Society welcomes all to join them in celebrating this momentous occasion and experience the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of the Swasthani Brata festival at the new temple and cultural center.