Durga Puja Pandal and Temple At RamKrishna Math and Mission, Khar, Mumbai

Durga Puja Pandal in Mumbai at the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar

I am the mother of the wicked,
as I am the mother of the virtuous.
Never fear.
Whenever you are in distress, say to yourself,
'I have a mother.'

- Sri Sarada Devi. (Holy Mother)

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‘Road No. 12 is on the opposite side, I think you need to take a rickshaw.’

… says a local resident lady I happen to bump into but I, being in no mood to take the rickshaw, keep walking.

I am on my way to the RamKrishna Math And Mission to get my share of a small slice of the Durga Pujo festivities in Mumbai by visiting their Durga Pandal which is now in their 46th year but when I quiz by the name – I realize not many people know about the place and so, I stick to inquiring for the more commonly used address, road number 12.

After walking for about 10 odd minutes and asking a couple of more people, I leave the main road to enter road number 12 in the western suburbs of Khar. The moment I step in the lane, I stop hearing the impatient honking of the vehicles outside. Dotted with residential buildings on both sides of the street, road number 12 is a series of succeeding narrow lanes with absolutely no person or shop around which can be quizzed further for the directions.

12th Road Khar - on the way to Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Mumbai

Am I lost? I wonder.

Just around then, I spot a lone shopkeeper selling vegetables on his pushcart. Adding to my delight is the fact that he is aware of the place ‘Ramkrishna Math’, the ONLY person from among the handful I’ve asked, and gives me the exact instructions in true GPS mode style ensuring that I reach without any hassle – Cross 3 junctions, don’t turn anywhere, there will be a hospital on the right and your destination will be on the left.

With every street junction that I cross thereafter, meticulously keeping the count of the number, I bless the shopkeeper for being there and helping me on my path.

Shri Ramkrishna Math and Mission, Khar (W), Mumbai.


Standing silently in a residential lane and shaded by huge trees, Shri Ramakrishna Math And Mission (RKMM) in Mumbai is a world unto itself. Away and unaffected by all the trivial communication and unnecessary noise of the outside world, especially in a city like Mumbai, it is a peaceful sanctuary that has provided solace and helped untangle millions of loosened knots to those seeking a little serenity, a little safety, a little sense of connectedness to their own inner whisperings beyond the daily hustles since more than over a decade.

Main entrance to the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Mumbai
One of the oldest centres of the Ramakrishna Order, RKM Mumbai, was established on February 19, 1923 in a rented house in Santacruz which was later shifted to its present location at Khar in 1925.


Shri Ramakrishna Math & Mission are regarded as identical spiritual organizations closely inter-related and working in tandem with each other towards a spiritual movement based on the ideals of service and renunciation to serve millions of men and womenfolk without any distinction of caste, creed or gender because they see the living God in them.

Sabha room at the Holy Mother Temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
A room inside the premises of the Ramkrishna Math and Mission, Khar.

It’s headquarters is based in Belur Math aka Mother House in Kolkata, the city where the monastic Guru Shri Ramkrishna lived and through his burning experiences and spiritual realizations, demonstrated beyond doubt the reality of God and testified the authority of time-honored teachings of various prophets and saints of yore, and thus restored the falling edifice of religion on a secure spiritual foundation.

Two large trees stand guard at the main entrance like two alert sentinels. Step in, and one can almost feel the meditative lull wrapping you securely in its folds.

Exactly opposite the main entrance gate, is the main temple or the Universal Temple as was christened by Swami Vivekananda to indicate that all people, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, race, gender and nationality are welcome here. This temple would provide a safe refuge for anyone and everyone who was eager to sincerely dive deep into oneself through meditation or prayer or vichara (self-enquiry). With this noble intent, the temple was built and consecrated on June 27, 1965.

To the right is the Bhakt Niwas meant for the devotees and admirers of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission who support Ramakrishna Order’s activities.

Bhakt Niwas at Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Bhakt Niwas, Shri Ramkrishna Math and Mission, Khar, Mumbai.

Towards the left is Holy Mother’s Temple housing the sacred relics of Mother Shri Sarada Devi, wife and spiritual consort of Ramkrishna who He regarded as an incarnation of The Divine Mother, regularly addressing her as the “Holy Mother.”

Way to the Holy Mother Temple,  Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Way to the Holy Mother's Temple on the first floor.

It’s 2 in the afternoon and the main temple or the Universal temple is closed. I look around and see an elderly woman standing near the Holy Mother’s temple. The lady tells me that she has come here to do seva of binding laddoos for the bhog prasad which will be distributed after the evening arti.

Since how many years have you been giving this seva? I quiz to which she giggles very humbly and says ‘that I don’t know but it’s been many years.’

Can I take your picture?, I asked politely.

What will you do with my picture?, She replied shyly while still obliging me very dearly.

A devotee at the Holy Mother Temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Meeting a very humble and endearing mother… Mrs. Jharna Saha,a Bengali from Tripura,
till I meet The Mother.

We chat a bit before climbing the steps to the sabhamandap hall in The Mother’s Temple.

A devotee offers prayers at the Holy Mother Temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai

It’s pin drop silence, and the doors for the darshan are closed. A woman from Orissa who has come to set up her exhibit stall as part of the Durga Puja festivities is sitting in a corner. Another woman sits at the front row actively immersed in her prayers.

Idol of the Holy Mother, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Shri Sarada Devi - The Holy Mother Temple.

As I take a refuge from the fierce sun and make myself comfortable on the calm, cool marble flooring, I can feel the nurturing presence and the indomitable spirit of The Mother. I close my eyes and offer a prayer of gratitude and support for my faith.

Shri Ramkrishna Temple or Universal Temple, Khar (W), Mumbai.

The Universal temple is distinct from the traditional Hindu temples in its make in an endeavor to embody the vision of true religious harmony, the synthesis of all faiths as was propounded by Shri Ramkrishna all His life.

The stony exterior of the Universal temple is a beautiful synthesis of Hindu and Islamic style of architecture resplendent in a royal Rajasthani Palace.

Stone synthesis of Hindu and Islamic architecture of Universal temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai

Sri Ramakrishna used to say, ‘All jackals howl in the same way.’

All the leaders of religious thoughts speak the same language. Only, they are differently understood because of the different traditions, cultures and denominations of the different sects. That is a difference due to factors which are extraneous to religion. True religion is that which binds together, it does not create conflict, it does not disunite people; it gives meaning to our life, it gives us a binding, universal brotherhood, a universal human community.

Stony exterior at the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Ramkrishna Matt and Mission courtyard, Khar Mumbai
Universal Temple stony exteriors.


The rich ornate interior of the Universal Temple brings to life all such ideas and sheds light on ‘What really is religion?’. All the four sides of the walls are adorned with beautiful and colorful wall paintings and frescoes of saints, philosophers, prophets, great thinkers and orators of all major religions who have generously imparted their insights and ideology on faith for the benefit of humankind.

A sneek peek of the Universal Temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai

The room has windows on all sides which have been treated externally with elegant decorative flower motifs and fluted borders in stone and doors on three sides to the temple on the east, north and south. There are separate seating sections for men and women.

Windows at Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
An ornate window at the Universal Temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Windows from the outside and inside in the Universal Temple, RKM, Khar.

The paneled wall paintings and painted panels on the ceilings remind one of the Buddhist wall paintings in nearby Elephanta, Karla and Ajanta caves. There are scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana gracing the walls as well but the one which catches my eye is directly opposite the main sanctum sanctorum.

It reads – 

In the heart of a crematorium ground
we have planted the Panchabati
under its shade
we shall unite the hundred crores of this world.

In the sanctum sanctorum is the solid white marble statue of Sri Ramakrishna, one of the most revered and celebrated 19th century mystic in Bengal, respected for his steadfast devotion, loved for his unbounded kindness, adored for his child like eccentricity, seated on a full bloomed lotus, flanked by images of Swami Vivekananda and the Holy Mother.

Main hall of the Universal Temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Sanctum sanctorum at the Universal Temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Marble staue of Shri Ramkrishna Paramhansa at the Universal Temple, Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
The hall and the sanctum and sanctorum of the Ramkrishna Math and Mission, Khar. Mumbai.

Sri Ramakrishna didn’t preach. He led by example. Showing us through his own life that God is real, rather the only Reality among the seemingly and so-called real world. He proved in his life that if one is sincere and industrious enough in his search for God, one would definitely find Him, the Truth. Not only that but he practised various disciplines of spiritual practice in Hinduism and also other religions like Christianity and Islam, and proved to himself and the world that the same God or Truth can be found through all these various paths. And thus, he concluded, “As many faiths, so many paths.” 

As I make my way out of the temple to the Khar Railway Station, I take a different path this time, in a rickshaw… my journey to Shri Ramkrishna Math and Mission completes a full circle.

Old and Traditional Durga Puja Pandal at the Ramkrishna Math and Mission in Mumbai: Navratri Special.


Magnificient Durga Puja Pandal at the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai

But before leaving the premises, I just about manage to find my way to the Ramkrishna Math Durga Puja Pandal, one of the oldest in Mumbai, and capture the magnificence and bliss of the Navratri festival for the very first time with great fervour.

Decorative Durga Puja Pandal at the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai

Known for its heritage and the age-old custom of Kumari Puja, the venue is popular for performing the puja and rituals keeping in line with the traditions. The Kumari Puja was started by Swami Vivekananda and has continued till date, where a young girl is worshipped as Goddess symbolising the power that regulates the creation, stability, and destruction of the Earth.

Dazzling Durga Puja Pandal at the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Beautiful Durga Puja Pandal at the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Durga Pujo Pandal at the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai
Ghost killing at the Durga Puja Pandal at the Ramkrishna Matt and Mission Khar, Mumbai

The Durga Puja Program includes various cultural and time-honored events starting from the fifth day of the festival till the concluding day with the 8th, 9th and 10th day being elaborate full day affairs celebrated with much gaiety and enthusiasm.

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Temple Timings And Information For Visitors:


Temple Address:

Ramakrishna Mission Marg, 12th Road, Khar West, Mumbai.
The main temple is an active place of study and contemplation for devotees wishing to partake in meditation, worship, and bhajan (congregational singing).

The temple is open to all visitors irrespective of creed, race, religion or faith. There is no entrance fee.

Temple timings:

The temple remains open from 5 AM to 11.30 AM and from 3.30 PM to 8.30 M throughout the year.
Worship and Arti timings:

Worship begins in the morning, starting with Mangala Arti at 5.00 am. Puja is between 7.30-9.30 am, Bhog between 11.30 am -12.00 noon (food offering) and Evening Arti at sunset.

Evening Arti Timings:

During Winter - 6.45 PM to 7.15 PM
Duriing Summer - 7.15 PM to 7.45 PM
Ram Naam Sankirtan – April to October at 6 PM and November to March at 5.30 PM.

Devotees congregate for Bhajans after the evening Arti, and Sankirtans on Ekadashi before evening Arati, and special occasions such as Shivaratri and Ram Navami.

The service arm of the Temple complex is situated across the road which includes a Charitable Hospital, Auditorium, Library, Bookshop and Administrative Building.

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Ram Krishna Math & Mission Durga Puja Pandal Mumbai

Comments

  1. Keep this going please, great job!

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  2. Great to read. Beautiful post and photos.
    Shubho Bijoya and Happy Dussehra.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As always beautifully written and, oh my goodness, such wonderful photographs. I once again come away from your blog feeling truly enlightened.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautifully written Arti..Photographs are great too..A sweet journey of an unknown place through your words..thanks for sharing..

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  5. I always feel both energized and calmed to see the scenery and visit the beautiful temples along with you, Arti. I think of the wisdom of "So many faiths, as many paths."

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