Shubho Mahalaya (File/Representational Image)
As Bengalis across the globe wake up to the festivities of Durga Puja, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday wished netizens happiness, health and prosperity on the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya. The festival, which is being celebrated with much grandeur and zeal, marks the beginning of the 'Devi-paksha' after the end of the inauspicious Shraadhh period or 'Pitri-paksha'. Pitri Paksha also known as Pitru Paksha is a 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar when three generations of ancestors are invited to a meal and an offering of rice cakes on the banks of the River Ganges. The offering is known as 'Tarpan' and Bengalis present it on a banana leaf for the salvation of their forefathers. This year Mahalaya falls on Saturday, October 28.
"Shubho Mahalaya! We pray for the abundance of happiness in our lives. May everyone be healthy and prosperous. May the blessings of Maa Durga always remain on our society," Prime Minister Modi, who is on his way to India from the US, tweeted.
Shubho Mahalaya!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 28, 2019
We pray for the abundance of happiness in our lives. May everyone be healthy and prosperous.
May the blessings of Maa Durga always remain on our society.
What is Mahalaya?
Mahalaya, which is observed seven days before Durga Puja, invites their beloved deity Maa Durga, who symbolises strength and happiness. Chanting Durga mantras and playing hymns like 'Bajlo Tomar Alor Benu, 'Durge Durge Durgatinashini, 'Jaago Tumi Jaago' make the Mahalaya experience much more special.
However, for Bengalis, Mahalaya cannot be complete without listening to the chants of 'Mahishasur Mardini' by Birendra Krishna Bhadra. They wake up early in the wee hours of the morning and tune in to a recorded version of Mahishasur Mardini.
Today, even after two decades of his demise, Bhadra's impeccable style of reciting Mahishasur Mardini continues to mesmerise All India Radio, giving scores of Bengalis present all over thrill and goosebumps. Mahisasura Mardini, which goes for around two long hours starting from 4 am, is broadcast on AIR since 1931.
Durga Puja is considered to be the biggest festival of the Bengalis. The cities all over West Bengal, especially Kolkata houses some of the most beautiful pandals and idols and dazzle with lights during the celebration.
People from every walk of life forget their worries for these seven particular days and come forward to enjoy at their fullest. It won't be wrong to say that Bengalis eagerly wait for this festival throughout the year and with the Puja around the corner they stop discriminating among themselves and celebrate, eat, and roam together, looking their best in new and gorgeous attires.
The festival is also celebrated as Navaratri in various parts of India to celebrate Maa Durga's success in killing the demon king Mahishasura, much to the delight and excitement to the world of goddess. The festival ends with the celebration of Dusshera which signifies the victory of good over the evil power of Mahishasura.
Dusshera, popularly known as Bijaya Dashomi in West Bengal, also marks the historic victory of Lord Ram over the evil King Ravana. Effigies of the latter are also burnt as a symbol of the victory of good in northern of the country.