Durga Puja sets in with Mahalaya

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The Goddess Durga has begun her descent to this World for the durga Puja after having vanquished the evil demon Mahishasura, as the Mahalaya is celebrated all over.

To remind us of this victory, we have the auspicious day of ‘Mahalaya’ and iconic recitation by Birendra Krishna Bhadra could be heard from every corner.

Not only does this annual event hold a religious and spiritual significance, it also reminds us of the power of truth, of courage and of the universal fact that in the end, but good will also always triumph over evil.

What is Mahalaya?

To begin with, the day of Mahalaya marks the beginning of Devi Paksha and the end of the Pitri Paksha, the latter of which, is a period of mourning. Hindus consider Pitri Paksha to be inauspicious, because shradhh or death rites are performed during this period. It is a 16-day lunar period during which people remember and pay homage to their ancestors using food and water offerings.

It is believed Goddess Durga undertakes this week-long journey with her children — Ganesha, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati — on a vehicle of her choice. It could be a palanquin, or a boat, an elephant or a horse.

Mahalaya is celebrated roughly seven days before Durga Puja. Every Bengali and Assamese household wakes up early in the morning — even before the sun — to customarily listen to a collection of songs and mantras called ‘Mahishasura Mardini’, in the sonorous voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra. These mantras invoke the Goddess; the most famous one being Jago Tumi Jago (meaning, ‘awaken, oh Goddess!’)

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