Mahalaya

Today is a special day for all Bengalis. It marks the beginning of an auspicious time, “Devi pakshya”. This new moon ( amavasya ) day or Mahalaya happens seven days before the start of Durga Puja. It is marked by a ritual of welcoming Ma Durga to visit her earthly abode or baper bari.

It has been a tradition for the Bengalis to wake up in the wee hours of dawn and to listen to the melodious invocation of Goddess Durga, on the radio. This AIR (All India Radio) programme “Mahisasurmardini” was first broadcast in 1931. The welcoming songs (agamani sangeet) sung by renowned artists, and mantras (Chandipath) chanted by Birendra Krishna Bhadra still touch every Bengali’s heart.

Some families also observe Tarpan and pay homage to their ancestors on this day.

I am very thankful to my friend for sending me the recording of this programme yesterday with a reminder to listen to it. I woke up at around 3:30am and used my headphones so that others did not get disturbed. I listened intently recognising all the songs and mantras, I had heard over so many years. They still create a magical sensation in my heart. A feeling of purity surrounded me as I visualized the divine beauty and power of Maa Dugra before my eyes. At some point, not even sure what triggered it, I could not help moving my hands and body to the rythmn of the songs. It was a lovely experience. The programme ended a little before 5 am. I went back to bed still cherishing the pure vibrations. I was almost wanting more.

Around 5:30 am, my husband woke up and started playing “Masisashurmardini” on his phone. My daughter woke up too. We listened to it, all together this time.

Happy Mahalaya and Durga Puja to all.

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