Mahalaya, a revered occasion for Bengalis, marks the beginning of the festive fervor leading up to Durga Puja, the grandest celebration in West Bengal and among Bengali communities worldwide. This sacred day holds profound significance in the hearts of Bengalis, as it ushers in the Goddess Durga, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil and the embodiment of divine strength.
The Legend of Mahalaya
Mahalaya’s origins are rooted in Hindu mythology, specifically the tale of Goddess Durga’s descent to Earth to vanquish the demon Mahishasura. According to legend, the gods created Goddess Durga to defeat the invincible demon, who was wreaking havoc in the celestial realms. Mahalaya marks the day when the goddess begins her journey from her heavenly abode to Earth, a journey that ultimately culminates in the epic Durga Puja festival.
Mahalaya’s spiritual importance is accentuated by the “Mahishasura Mardini” recitation, a mesmerizing rendition of verses from the ancient scripture “Chandi Path.” This recitation, broadcasted on the radio since the early 1930s by the legendary Birendra Krishna Bhadra, is an integral part of Mahalaya mornings. It invokes the goddess’s blessings and sets the tone for the festive season.