Its been sometime since I have been home on one of these festivals. For example, I love Holi and I haven't been home for Holi in last 3-4 years. :( And, Holi is not the only one. All the biggies in the annual Hindu festival list are the same.
This time though, we had a chance to be at the local temple in Winterthur for शिवरात्रि (Shivartri). The temple is an ashram established by Swami Onkarananda. They have a similar ashram in Haridwar as well.
The place is now entirely run/managed by local swiss devotees. All of them have spent at least some time in the ashram in Haridwar. They seem to have excellent knowledge of Sanskrit, not so much of Hindi.
When they were performing the Shivaratri abhisheka, I was stunned to listen to them chanting original sanskrit shlokas and mantras, quite perfectly. I really really liked it.
There I met one more person, Bhaskar (भास्कर). Born a Swiss, he has been educated in haridwar and here in Switzerland as well. He had an excellent pronunciation of the sanskrit Shlokas.
It turned out that he had studied sanskrit in Haridwar for a long time (few years I guess). He claims knowledge of Vedas (वेद), and I dont think he's lying. With the kind of knowledge he was showcasing there, I could easily imagine him knowing some of it.
Later I learned that he's teaching people Sanskrit from the temple premises. A very nice thing in my opinion. Also, that he's starting (or already started) classes for kids on Veda in general.
In my view, a very very nice thing to do, especially that the knowledge about Vedas etc is not so much present in normal Indian's life.
All in all, the Shivaratri trip to the temple, turned out to be very interesting.
हर हर महादेव :)