Mahalaya 2020 date, time, significance: Why Durga Puja has been pushed back by over a month
According to two popular schools of almanac, unusual gap between Mahalaya and Mahasashthi is due to the occurrence of a lunar month which has two new moons
Mahalaya marks the beginning of the Devipaksha and the end of the Pitrupaksha according to Hindu calendar. For the unversed, Pitru Paksha is a 16-lunar day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors through shradh prayers and food offerings.
The period begins on the full moon day or a day after in the lunar month of Bhadrapada. Devotees believe that performing rites during this period helps liberate souls to attain salvation from the cicle of life and death
While Mahalaya Amavasya is the day that marks the culmination of the Pitry Paksha period and the beginning of the Devi Paksha, things are a bit different this year.
Here is the time, date and significance of Mahalaya
Mahalaya Amavasya Date:
This year, Mahalaya Amavasya will be observed on 17 September, on the same day as Vishwakarma Puja.
Time or tithi of Mahalaya 2020
Reports have claimed that this year the amavasya began at 7.56 pm on 16 September and will end at 4.29 pm on 17 September.
Significance of Mahalaya Amavasya
On the day of Mahalaya, people pay obeisance to the soul of their father by performing tarpan in Ganga. This day is also ideal to conduct Shradh rituals for anyone who breathed their last on the Purnima Tithi, Chaturdashi Tithi or Amavasya Tithi.
It is also the day when Devipaksha begins.
It is believed that on Mahalaya, Goddess Durga begins her journey to the Earth from her home in Kailash. Durga brings her children Kartik, Ganesha, Lakshmi and Saraswati as she visits her father’s home. The vehicle she boards to descend also changes every year.
Why Durga Puja is 35 days later from Mahalaya this year?
This year Mahalaya is being celebrated on 17 September but, Durga Puja is still a month away, with Sosthi scheduled to take place on 22 October. This is unusual as there is normally a gap of only six days between Mahalaya and 'Pujo'.
Mahalaya is marked with Pitri-tarpan (offerings to ancestors) and it will do so even in 2020. But the beginning of the Durga Puja has been pushed back to avoid an unholy month or 'mala mash'.
In accordance with the Bengali calendar, Mahalaya falls on the first day of the month Ashwin, which is also a new moon (amavasya). The problem is with Ashwin's second new moon, which falls on the 29th day of the month, that is on October 16.
According to The Telegraph , two popular schools of almanac, Bisuddha Siddhanta and Surya Siddhanta, agree on this aberration due to the presence of two new moons in the month of Ashwin.
Manoj Lahiri of Bisuddha Siddhanta Panjika spoke with the portal and explained that any lunar month that has two new moons (amavasya) is called a mala mash. During this month, "no auspicious rites and rituals can be performed".
This year, Ashwin is such a month. Thus, Durga Puja, which is one of the most popular festivals for people in Bengal, Assam and Odisha, will be "deferred till that lunar month is over and takes place in the next month that is Kartik".
Hence, as the lunar month of Kartik begins on 17 October, Devipaksha (the holy period of the Goddess' awakening) will also begin.
Most of the community mandapas begin their rites on the day of Sosthi, so this change will not cause them any such problem. But there exist some traditional pujo (in Kalighat temple for example) where the rites begin on Krishna Navami, the ninth day of the new moon cycle which ends on Mahalaya, and continues till Vijaya Dashami in Devipaksha.
The Statesman reported, that this is the first time that Mahalaya has taken place 35 days before the start of Durga Puja. In 2001, Durga Puja was observed 30 days after the Mahalaya. Before that, the phenomenon had occurred in 1982.
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