Mahalaya ushers in the festival of Durga Puja in West Bengal. With the Mahalaya 2010 which is on 7th September 2010, i.e. today, the countdown for the Durga Puja 2010 has finally come to a grand closing and the new countdown has begin to welcome Goddess Durga to earth. Durga Puja is one of the grandest festivals of India. The Indian festival Durga Puja is mostly celebrated in West Bengal, though several states in India celebrate the Durga Puja festival in their own ways. With the Indian festival of Janmashtami, the countdown for the festival of Durga Puja begins. However, it is only on the Durga Puja Mahalaya day that the ritualistic preparations of this beautiful Indian festival reach its stage of finality.
Rituals of Mahalaya – the onset of Durga Puja
With the coming of the Mahalaya it is believed Goddess Durga, the beloved wife of Lord Shiva of Kailash Mansarovar, prepares to come down to earth with her four children – Goddess Lakhsmi, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Kartik and Lord Ganesha to visit her paternal home. Mahalaya is an auspicious day in the entire Durga Puja festival. This occasion, which heralds the advent of Goddess Durga to her birth place, is observed seven days before the actual Durga Puja festival.
|People Offering Mahalaya Tarpan to Ancestors in the Holy Ganges - Mahalaya before Durga Puja Festival|
Mahalaya – the auspicious day of remembrance
From the day of Mahalaya begins 'Devipaksha' which marks the ending of the 'Pitri-paksha'. On the day of Mahalaya in India, men dress up in dhotis and offer ‘tarpan’ or prayers for the ancestors on the banks of the Holy Ganga. This is a pre-dawn ritual which is believed to fill the mind, body and soul of the worshipper with the Holy blessings of their ancestors, who come down to earth for 15 days, stay during Mahalaya Amavasya and leave on the Mahalaya new moon day. According to the Durga Puja legends, Mahalaya is the day when the Gods wake up from their divine meditative state to prepare themselves for the Durga Puja festival.