Mahalaya is the day when Goddess Durga came down on the earth from heaven or Kailash Parvat. Kailash Parvat is a place where Goddess Durga resides with her family.
The Bengali community celebrates this day mostly. The day of Mahalaya marks the beginning of Devi Paksha and the end of Pitri Paksha. Pitri Paksha is considered to be the period of mourning. From this day itself, the Bengalis have that “Pujo-Pujo” feeling.
What special thing happens on this day?
Mahalaya is celebrated mostly prior to a week of Durga Puja, although it can change. On this day some Hindu households perform the ritual of “pitritarpan”. They offer prayers to their ancestors in the form of “pind-daan”.
The Occasion also includes giving”bhogs” to Brahmins. This day Goddess Durga along with her four children Kartik, Ganesh, Saraswati, and Laxmi came on the earth.
The youth have different outlooks for this day. They start picturing the lightings, the Pandals, and also the potters in Kumartuli in Kolkata.
On this day the Durga’s eyes have been painted by the potters which are known as “Chokkudaan”.
How is this day is celebrated
The fervor of the Durga Puja festival begins with this day. Durga Puja starts from the seventh day of it and ends the tenth day of Dashami off on this day. There are several programs on television and radio are been performed. It is a famous day among every Bengali who religiously wakes up at 4 a.m. to listen to the Mahisasura Mardini by Birendra Krishna Bhadra. The mantras are assumed to invoke the Goddess and the religious hymns are picked up from the Hindu religious scripture Devi Mahatmyam or “Glory of the Goddess”.
People wake up in the morning, spend the day reciting prayers and hymns.
The School colleges and also some workplaces are given holidays or half days because of the starting of the festival.
Food and clothes are offered at the puja mandaps. The food offerings made for the ancestors are usually cooked in silver or copper vessels and typically offered on a banana leaf or cups made of dried leaves. The food generally includes kheer, lassi, rice, dal, spring bean vegetable, and yellow gourd.
This time between Mahalaya and Durga puja there is a month’s gap which occurs but this time, “Mahashashthi” marks the beginning of the Durga Puja. Usually, the gap between ‘Mahalaya’ and ‘Mahashashthi’ is six days. But, this year ‘Mahasashthi’ is on October 22 this year. The 35-day gap between ‘Mahalaya’ and ‘Mashashthi’ is regarded as ‘mala mash’ or an ‘unholy month’ which has two new moons or ‘Amavasyas.’ So, ‘mala mash’ is a month when according to scriptures the auspicious rituals are avoided.
The most auspicious duration when Durga Puja is celebrated is the ‘Devi Paksha’ that will begin from October 17 this year. It starts with the first day of the Sharadiya Navratri which is also known as ‘Pratipad.’
Due to the global pandemic this time. There is no excitement that has been shown as of now. The shopping of Bengalis starts prior to months before Mahalaya but this year is vague.
People are facing financial constraints as most of the people have lost their jobs and the others are afraid. Many apps have been launched so that the people enjoy this festival sitting at their houses. The apps will allow people to offer personalized prayers, help them to understand mantras. The apps will also allow people to virtual visitors to contribute money to any puja committee.