Shubho Mahalaya 2019: Falling a week before West Bengal's most popular annual festival, Durga puja, comes Mahalaya. This year, the auspicious day falls on Saturday, (28 September), according to the Hindu calendar.
On Mahalaya, from when the countdown of Durga Puja begins, almost every Bengali wakes up at 4 am in the morning, tunes into the radio to listen to the recital of Mahisasura Mardini by Birendra Krishna Bhadra to mark the beginning of the much-awaited festival.
Celebrated at the end of Shradh or Pitru Paksha, a 16-day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors, the day is celebrated by Bengalis across the globe with much fervour and zeal.
It is a popular belief that mantras called 'Mahisasura Mardini' invoke the goddess Durga; the most famous one being Jago Tumi Jago.
The occasion is associated with different practices and rituals. Many people perform tarpan on this day to offer prayers to the departed souls of their ancestors and offer bhog to the Brahmins, along with food and other materials to the needy. Mahalaya is considered auspicious because Goddess Durga, accompanied by her children, is believed to have stepped on planet earth on this day.
The day, however, holds a different significance for the youth. For them, the start of Mahalaya begins with a tour to the picturesque lanes of the potters in Kumartuli in Kolkata, where the deity is given her eyes, in what is called as Chokkhudaan.
Chokkhudaan takes place at the break of dawn on Mahalaya, when the potters paint the eyes of Durga. These lively lanes also attract the young crowd of photographers who capture the idols coming to life, as they are given final touches on this auspicious day.
Idols of the deity are transported to various pandals from this day on, with the onset of the last round of preparation for the grand festival. Mahalaya brings with it a feeling of positivity, festivity and warmth ahead of the start of the most anticipated festival.
It is from this day that the Durga Puja fever begins. Durga Puja starts from the seventh day after Mahalaya and ends on the tenth day of Dashami or Dussehra.
This year, Maha Shashti falls on 4 October and the festivities will continue till 8 October, which is Maha Dashami or Vijaya Dashami.
With inputs from ANI
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Updated Date: Sep 29, 2019 10:14:45 IST