Quieter, greener homage to Belur saint
- In a bid to conserve environment, the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission will break an age-old tradition this year and do away with the practice of having a fireworks display as part of the birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna.
- The fireworks display is usually held on the last day of the celebrations, which falls on March 17 this year.
- The birth anniversary programme of the 19th century saint Ramakrishna is marked by a pre-dawn arati, Vedic chanting and a homa (invocation of gods with offerings before a fire). Traditionally, it culminates with a public event on a Sunday with a fireworks display in the evening on the adjacent banks of the Hooghly river.
- Spread over 40 acres on the west bank of the river, the Math complex, with its architecturally distinct temples and landscaped gardens, attracts devotees and tourists alike from all over the country and beyond, as well as the residents of Howrah, a congested industrial district across Kolkata.
- The nearly hour-long, fireworks show draws hundreds to the Math. Sources surmise that the tradition of the fireworks display may have been started by Swami Vivekananda, who founded the Order over a hundred years ago.