Today is Mahalaya as per the Hindu mythology. While there are many stories and/or folklore associated with the day, largely, people believe that on this day, Goddess Durga officially begins her journey from Mount Kailash, where she resides with her husband Lord Shiva in her maternal home on Earth that is West Bengal.
Worshipping of Goddess Durga takes place and being celebrated to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasur, a demon.
The demon had got the boon of never being defeated in any battle after his intense prayers to Lord Brahma. After which he had unleashed a reign of terror in the three worlds- Heaven, Earth, and Netherworlds.
It is believed Goddess Durga undertook the 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 (Worshipping Goddess Durga) Every Bengali household wakes up early in the morning, even before the sun to customarily listen to a collection of songs called ‘Mahishasura Mardini’ These mantras invoke the Goddess; the most famous one being Jago Tumi Jago (meaning, ‘awaken, oh Goddess!’)
On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted greetings to the countrymen. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also tweeted greetings to the people of the state. According to the Hindu calendar, Mahalaya is celebrated by the devotees of Maa Durga a week before the Goddess Durga’s worship celebrations begin.
Mahalaya is marked on the last day of Pitru Paksha (Fatherhood) and starting of the Devipaksha (Motherhood) which is being observed today, on October 6 this year.
Bengali’s believe that Goddess Durga is their own daughter who stays at Mount Kailash with her Husband Lord Shiva and her sons and daughters. Goddess Durga’s worship is a famous Hindu festival mostly celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal in the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Odisha and Bihar.
It is believed that this festival exemplifies the victory of good over evil, as Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasur. It is the main festival of West Bengal.
This morning, the Prime Minister tweeted, “Happy Mahalaya. We bow to Mother Durga and pray for her blessings for the world. May all be at peace and be healthy.” On the same day, Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “The much awaited Durgotsab (festival of worshipping Goddess Durga) has started through Mahalaya. Now the day begins to count. My best wishes to everyone. Happy Mahalaya.”
The Chief Minister will inaugurate several pujas(Place of worshipping Goddess Durga) in Kolkata on Wednesday. Among them are Kalindi Plot Owners Association, Naktala Udayan Sangha, Selim Palli, Babubagan, Chetla Agrani etc. It is to be noted that at present the Corona situation in the state is very much under control. However, several restrictions have been imposed by the state to prevent the spread of corona during the festive season.
For the Bengalis, Durga Puja marks the time of happy tides as the city gets ready to immerse itself in the festive revelry, Durga Puja for the Bengalis is much more than a festival. It is a carnival and an emotion that marks the time of happy tides. For Bengalis, it’s just not a festival, it’s their daughter’s home coming time. They welcome Goddess Durga back to her paternal home that is Bengal with their culture, authenticity, heritage, emotion.