By Brittany Goulette
Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Hari Pulapaka held an informational session about the Hindu tradition of Durga Puja last Friday.
Alongside Professor of Religious Studies Phillip Lucas and Chaplain Michael Fronk, Pulapaka discussed the importance of Durga Puja in Navratri, the festival of Nine Nights. Oct. 18 marked the last night of the nine night long tradition.
The festival dates are in accordance with the Hindu calendar, which is based on the cycles of the moon. It also corresponds to the end of the rainy season.
Students gathered in the Hollis Center to enjoy food Pulapaka prepared during the session. The ingredients Pulapaka needed were provided by Dining Services. Pulapaka is the co-owner and executive chef of downtown DeLand’s Cress restaurant.
Dahl, a Hindu lentil soup, was made for the audience members, and other traditional curry dishes and vegetarian tofu dishes were served. In addition to the traditional food at the event, a video presentation was shown displaying sights in India detailing the Puja.
Lucas, who helped organize that event, said he believed it was “advantageous to have the event led by a faculty member who was reared in the Hindu tradition,” and that this event is an example of the way food can serve as a link between people and their religious traditions.
Lucas said the event was a good way for students to gain an understanding of the world around them.
“Food and religion are so vitally connected in the world’s different religious traditions,” he added.
According to Lucas, Pulapaka provided students with a “first-hand account and [a]human face” to relate with the traditions of Durga Puja, allowing them a closer connection with the celebration than they ever had before.