Tag Archives: religion

The History of St. Scholastica in Duluth: The Beginning – by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The History of St. Scholastica in Duluth: The Beginning – by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

From Professor Liang, NSR Editor-in-Chief: We sincerely thank the Monastery for sharing these treasured historic photos. We also thank Professor Heidi Johnson of the St. Scholastica Archives and St. Scholastica Library for the invaluable assistance and guidance for our student author. All rights to the photos belong to the Monastery, Archives, and College.

The Benedictine sisters originated from Rome but have seen many other places as their home. From Rome they traveled to England, then to Germany, and then to the United States (specifically Pennsylvania). The order of St. Benedict that later moved to Duluth in 1889 originated around St. Cloud, Minnesota.

1882 marked the move of some of the Benedictine sisters to Duluth, Minnesota. Leading them was Mother Scholastica Kerst, born Catherine Kerst in Prussia in 1847 her family moved to the United States when she was just five years old to the St. Paul region of Minnesota. Her father Peter Kerst had no trade, just business skills and his savings from his work in Prussia. Mother Scholastica started her journey with God in Shakopee, Minnesota but soon asked to be transferred to a monastery in Pennsylvania, but she was persuaded to go to St. Joseph, Minnesota. In 1880 after only three years at St Benedicts monastery in St. Joseph she became the Mother Superior which she held for nine years. Mother Scholastica expanded the community by creating hospitals in Bismarck, St. Cloud, and Duluth and she also helped build and taught at certain schools when she was the prioress.

When Mother Scholastica and her Sister Alexia both joined the Benedictine sisters in St. Joseph, their father gave the monastery a dowry of substantial size that allowed them to expand the community. Mother Scholastica was approached to help create the new diocese of Duluth by Bishop McGolrick who would always say “She built my diocese.” This was the driving force what would soon lead to a strong community of Benedictine sisters on the Great Lake. Mother Scholastica and her sister Alexia, after an argument with the St. Benedicts monastery that was soon resolved by the pope, took their dowry and headed to Duluth with 28 sisters (31 if you counted non-professed women).

Mother Scholastica got started right away renting the first St. Mary’s hospital from St. Johns Abbey in 1888, which was located in western side of Duluth. Ten years later they out grew the hospital and started to think of a better location that could reach more people, so they sold the old building to Anna Kerst, the mother of Scholastica and Alexia and turned the building into an orphanage and then later it was turned into St. Anne’s home for the elderly. The new hospital was built ten years after the start of the first hospital on 5th avenue East and 3rd Street and had additions added on to it from 1912 and the hospital is still adding more additions and newer buildings to their campus. St. Mary’s has quadrupled in size and has been helping the north land area since the first building in 1888.

The sisters were now working to establish a new school after the problems they faced with the first Sacred Heart. They began to rent out a building that can still be seen in Duluth today, Munger Terrace. Here the sisters lived and taught children after the first Sacred Heart school was discovered to be unlivable. At Munger Terrace the sisters decided to remain permanently at their mission in Duluth. While the sisters were living in Munger Terrace they received a generous donation of three lots by Peter and Anna Kerst to help them build a new school and a new permanent location for the sisters.

In 1894 the new Sacred Heart institute was completed. This prompted the sisters to move all operations from Munger Terrace to the brand new institution and cathedral. Seven years after the new school was opened they experienced a fire that occurred on New Year’s when everyone was located in the third floor chapel for mass. The fire damaged the basement, first floor, and even made it up to some of the second floor. This wouldn’t be the last fire to occur in this building. Sacred Heart institute started out with around only 20 students it soon reached over 100 students before it was eventually closed in 1909. Later on it was reopened in 1920 as St. Mary’s school of nursing, the building is still standing and has been converted into apartments.

Before Sacred Heart was even open, for ten years the sisters already outgrew the Sacred Heart institute. They soon paid a surveyor to find a plot of land that they could call their new home. The man came back with a daisy farm in the woodland area that seemed to fit the vision Mother Scholastica and the sisters had of their mission in Duluth. In 1899-1900 the first 80 acres were purchased and the sisters started to create their vision of a mother-house that could house both sisters and students. Over the next seven years the sisters bought 80 more acres. Construction began in 1907 and the first building was completed and occupied in 1909. The mother-house/school dawned the name Villa Sancta Scholastica. This was just the beginning of what this group of Benedictine Sisters would accomplish. (To be continued)

Thomas serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

31 Comments

Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Thomas Landgren

Macau, China – Portuguese in China (and the World)? The Lusophonia Festival in Macau – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Macau, China – Portuguese in China (and the World)? The Lusophonia Festival in Macau – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Carmen Miranda

[A Brazilian mannequin dressed similarly to national icon Carmen Miranda]

Entry_to_Lusophonia

[The brightly lit entryway to Lusophonia]

Macau, one of China’s key special administrative centers that is nestled close to the country’s southeastern Guangdong Province, is most famous (or infamous) for its behemoth gambling industry. Yet beside the glitzy façade of being China’s answer to Las Vegas, Macau has a deeply complex yet fascinating history. It had actually been under Portuguese colonial rule for hundreds of years, and the influence is still heavily visible on the city’s make-up. Bilingual Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese language signs dot the city streets. Plus, with Macau’s narrow cobblestone streets and countless cafes serving olive tapanades and wine and cheese platters, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you were not in Lisbon.

Mozambican_Statues

[Statues and carvings at the Mozambique booth]

Abi_Tony_Marin_Lusophonia

[My friends Abi, Tony, and I at Lusophonia]

Macau further displays its Portuguese heritage with Lusophonia, an annual celebration of all things Portuguese and/or Portuguese-influenced. The event features a series of activities, such as music and dance shows and tug-of-war competitions, to create a festive yet relaxed atmosphere. My friends and I first toured an early 20th century Macanese house museum, which showcased the combination of Cantonese and Portuguese cultural influences in small, mundane details. For example, the house featured several displays of saints and religious figures arranged and decorated on small tables in several rooms of the house. While this is not an unheard of practice in Catholicism, the way that some of them were arranged in the Macanese house, along with the side decorations (i.e. fruits, candles, etc.), seemed reminiscent of the numerous Cantonese and Chinese traditional ancestral shrines that I had previously encountered. After checking out the museum and musing on what it showed about the history of Macau, we headed to the biggest draw of the event: the food and craft vendors. They represented a spectrum of goodies from Portuguese-speaking nations all over the world. Like most people, I easily recognized the Brazilian stand, but was really surprised to see the geographic range of countries represented. The booths included everything from Mozambique (a country situated on the east coast of Africa), Sao Tome and Principe (an island off the west coast of Africa), and Timor-Leste (a Maritime Southeast Asian nation that only gained sovereignty from Indonesia in 2002). We circled around and took in the sights, smells, and tastes, munching on Macanese egg tarts and Brazilian chocolate truffles while we admired Mozambican wood statues and Timorese batiks…and making one too many pilgrimages to the free sangria being offered at the Portugal stand. After thoroughly checking everything out, we made our way back to Zhuhai and Mainland China, having felt sufficiently satisfied to learn a bit more about Macau and its identity.

Canto_China_Home_Shrine_2

[A more traditionally Cantonese/ Chinese home shrine]

Macau_Catholic_Mary_Shrine

[A more traditionally Portuguese Catholic home shrine]

Taipa_Museum_Exterior

[The exterior of the Taipa-Houses Museum]

Taipa_Museum_Home

[Interior of the Taipa Houses-Museum, a turn-of-the-century Portuguese-Macanese home]

Looking back at the event, I harbor a bit of mixed feelings. At first I thought it was a fun and frothy way to honor Portuguese culture. Afterwards, I realized that Lusophonia could be seen as a celebration of colonialism. Despite the potentially negative implications, the plain reality is that many of these countries have been historically influenced by Portugal (by both force and free will), and that interaction is heavily visible in their cultures and practices today. Thus, I think the event wanted to emphasize the countries’ contemporary identities and introduce people to places they may have never known much about otherwise—thus serving as a springboard to learn more about all the facets of these nations as a whole. All in all, the event not only served as a light history and socio-cultural lesson, but also was probably a better way to get acquainted with Macau than losing all of our money at the slots machines. And for that, we extend a hearty “Obrigado (Thank you)”! to the Lusophonia experience!

Tug_of_War

[Tug-of-war!]

Ruins_St.Paul_Macau

[The iconic Ruins of St. Paul in Macau]

Canto_China_Shrine

[A more traditionally Cantonese/ Chinese home shrine]

Marin Ekstrom serves as senior editor for The North Star Reports


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

46 Comments

Filed under Marin Ekstrom, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Photo-Essay — Tower Hall, St. Scholastica – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Photo-Essay — Tower Hall, St. Scholastica – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

ms1

[Photo 1. This photo is the front of Tower Hall, which was the first building on the college’s campus.]

As I began to explore on a quiet, Saturday afternoon, I realized that The College of St. Scholastica’s campus, the campus that I attend class on almost every day, is much more than I ever thought. I had always known that Tower Hall, the oldest structure on the campus, had been built as a result of a group of Benedictine sisters arriving in Duluth, MN in hopes of beginning their own diocese. What I did not experience and realize until my peaceful walk through the historical building was the amount of intricate details and the amount of time it must have taken to include those things while the building was being constructed. What really caught my attention and interest during my little journey was the windows of Tower Hall. It must have been the time I toured the building, which happened to take place while the sun was setting, because the light coming through the stained-glass windows lightened the place like I had never seen. There were so many different colors and shapes being reflected that I knew then that I wanted to focus specifically on the windows within Tower Hall for this photo-essay.

ms2

[Photo 2. This photo is of the window found on the first floor of the library. The glass is very colorful and appears to be the colors similar to that of a sunset.]

ms3

[Photo 3. This photo is of the stained-glass window found on the third floor of the library. The woman [Saint Scholastica?] in the window is often referred to as “Our Lady, Queen of Peace”.]

As I thought about what the stained-glass windows may have meant to the sisters that started the school, I remembered why they traveled here in the first place and that helped me come up with some possible theories. I believe the windows were made mainly for religious reasons since several of them included portraits of saints that were women. This could have been a way for the sisters to show God their love and loyalty to him since creating such windows could have served as daily reminders of God as the nuns walked past them. Also, I think it is important to note that the people in these windows were often females, which the sisters could have created with the purpose of showing the strength that women embody. Since this building was constructed at a time when women did not have many of their own rights, I believe this was a way for them to say to the world that women could create amazing and powerful things, just as men were able to during this period of history.

ms4

[Photo 4. This photo is of one of the windows found on the doors that lead into the “Our Lady, Queen of Peace Chapel”.]

ms5

[Photo 5. This photo is of a panel of stained-glass window that is found in the doorway leading from Tower Hall into the hallway that leads to the chapel.]

ms6

[Photo 6. This photo is of one of the stained-glass windows that can be found on the third floor of the library. The color palate is very bright and noticeable to the eye.]

A photo-essay is different than a typical essay because it allows the reader to interpret a lot more on their own, compared to strictly reading the thoughts of the author. I think it is interesting how looking at photos of something can cause people to feel different emotions and have different experiences versus someone else who may not have had those similar reactions. I think it is good to mix things up and look at photo-essays once in a while because it stimulates your brain differently than if you were reading an essay, and also challenges you to think abstractly. I genuinely enjoyed walking around The College of St. Scholastica’s campus and the sense of peace looking at the stained-glass windows was able to bring me. [From Professor Liang’s Spring 2015 World History II class.]

ms7

[Photo 7. This photo is of one of the stained-glass windows that can be found on the third floor of the library. The blue and yellow colors are now the official colors of the college.]

ms8

[Photo 8. This photo is of the stained-glass wall that can be found right inside the chapel. ]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

27 Comments

Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-One — Erdenet, Mongolia by Gina Sterk

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-One — Erdenet, Mongolia by Gina Sterk

A few weekends ago I took a trip to Erdenet, Mongolia’s second-largest city.  While there, we did some hiking around and came across a number of ovoos, which is what you see pictured below.  While I don’t know a lot about ovoos, I do know that they are a part of shamanism, the belief system that has traditionally been most prevalent in Mongolia.

gina 3

An ovoo is a pile of rocks, or cairn, which marks a religious site.  In Mongolia, you often come across them at high places, like mountaintops.  When you come across an ovoo, it is customary to circle it clockwise three times, then pick up a rock and add it to the pile, so the ovoos are continually growing.  Ovoos are also often drapped with hadag – blue, silk scarves used for ceremonial greetings, especially during Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian Lunar New Year (but which you also see everywhere in Mongolia throughout the year — for sale in markets, in temples, tied to bridges, etc.)

While I don’t know much about shamanism in Mongolia or the deeper meaning behind the ovoo, for me, ovoos symbolize what I find most alluring about Mongolia: the ancientness, vastness, and uniqueness of this land.  A land in which you never know when you might come across a beautiful, mysterious rock pile which has marked a sacred space for an unknowable number of years, decades, or maybe centuries.
———-
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to our collaborative program. 

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

13 Comments

Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Eighteen — Durga Puja in Eastern India, by Srijita Kar

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Eighteen — Durga Puja in Eastern India, by Srijita Kar

The word Puja stands for worship. Durga puja, the worship of goddess Durga, is one of the biggest celebrations in the Eastern part of India. It is known by various names in different states. In the Western part of India it is called Navratri and in the North it is known as Dusshera. It is nine days long celebration and the start is marked by Mahalaya which is a day prior to the first day of the puja. The word Mahalaya stands for the great beginning. On the day of Mahalaya people wake up at four in the morning to listen to the recital of the great victory of goddess Durga on the radio.

srijita 1

The first three days of the celebration is mostly bringing the statues of goddess Durga and her children (who are other gods and goddesses whom she took under her wings as her children), namely Saraswati, Kartik, Ganesh and Laxmi, to the pandal (a fabricated structure) and decorating the surroundings. On the fourth and fifth day the facial expressions of goddess Durga are drawn and eventually her whole face is painted and she is dressed in a gorgeous saree (Indian traditional clothes). On the sixth day, Maha Shashti, her eyes are completed and with that the curtains are raised for people see the statues of goddess Durga and her four children for the first time that year. This curtain raiser is followed by the recitation and a dramatization of the story of how the evil was defeated. The story goes as follows:

When the evil, Mahishasur(meaning the great demon) started taking over the world the gods in heaven tried to stop him with all the efforts they could put in. However, he had the blessing that no man could ever defeat him and thus all gods failed. In an effort to defeat him they decided to create a creature so strong and powerful that it contains all the powers of every god in heaven. They created a female god and named her Durga. She had ten hands and had a weapon in eight hands. She uses two hands to hold the trident and one hand is free, blessing her disciples. Her strength is symbolized by the tiger that she rides. She fights the evil off with her power and eventually defeats him by impaling her trident in him.

srijita 11

On the seventh day, Maha Saptami, everyone gathers in the afternoon for a feast and in the evening they come together to dance on the beats of the dhak (a musical instrument). The essence of Durga puja is incomplete without dhak. It is a drum like instrument played with the help of two sticks. People dance to the beat of the instrument every time they hear it. The eighth day, Maha Ashtami, is the most important day. People fast in the morning and pray to Maa Durga by giving anjali, a form of prayer where you repeat all the chants after the priest and then ask Maa Durga to grant your wishes. A lot of people decide to do nirjalavrath which is fasting without drinking even a drop of water. The first drop of water that is provided is the charanamrita (Charan = feet, amrita= holy water) which means holy water from the goddess’ feet, meaning her blessings. The afternoon is followed by a delicious vegan meal. In the evening everyone gets together and people go around seeing the different pandals in the area.

The festival is not limited to only the worshipping and music. With the influx of the modern world and growth in economy, most districts host a numerous number of puja locations. Each location has its own pandal and statues.

There is a competition held in Kolkata (formally known as Calcutta) for which area has the best theme for the pandal for the year’s celebration. Everyone builds a unique pandal starting from the remake of the famous temples and architectures, to a very creative pandal representing the heaven and the fight between Mahishasur and goddess Durga. This year some of the themes were library, carving on one single wood log, etc.

srijita 111

On the ninth day, Maha Navami, we have The Maha Navami Yajna (chanting of vedic mantra and offerings). This yajna is important because it is believed to get rid of one’s future troubles. The night of Maha Navami is the last night of celebration but the tenth night and the visarjan (submerging the statues in the water so the clay can melt away and settle on the sea/river bed) is also done with great enthusiasm. On the tenth day married women come to the pandal wearing a red and white saree and powdered vermillion (known as sindoor in Bengali), since it is the symbol of a married woman, much like the ring on your left hand in the Western world. They offer the sindoor to all the goddesses and gods by pouring a little on their feet and putting a dot on their forehead and also offer sweets (dessert items made out of milk mostly). Once they are done offering, they start the sindoor khela which is playing with the vermillion that was offered. They put the powder on each other’s face and offer each other sweets as a symbol of a healthy and blessed future. Later in the afternoon the statues are loaded on trucks and driven to the holy water of Ganges for the visarjan. People dance to the beat of either dhak or play music very loud to give Maa Durga a happy and grand departure. It is a procession where people dance like there is no worry in the world. They announce the departure of Maa Durga and her companions to everyone around them, even though the tenth day signifies the end of celebration and is usually a sad affair, the celebration uplifts the mood. And thus, the saying goes “ashche bochhor abar hobe,” meaning it will happen again next year.

Photo #1 The Library Theme
Photo #2 Carved on a Wooden Log
Photo #3 The entrance resembles medieval Indian palaces. With elephants adorning the gates and soldiers lined up, it looks like the era of the Kings and Queens have returned for a celebration so grand.

———-

For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

30 Comments

Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Srijita Kar