Mahalaya (महालय) or Mahalaya Amavasya is the day that starts the countdown for ‘Durga Puja’.
Mahalaya is observed on the Amavasya Day in the Hindu month of Ashwin. Mahalaya marks the end of Pitrupaksha and beginning of Devipaksha.
On this day people offer ‘tarpan’ in memory of their deceased forefathers. This Tarpan is performed at the bank of sacred river Ganges or its tributaries. It is only after the rituals, people eat anything. On this day people also offer sweets, foods and clothes for charity in the memory of the deceased.
Legends of Mahalaya :
It is believed that on this day all Gods and Goddesses wake up from their rest to offer ardent prayers to the savior Goddess Durga, and on this day Goddess Durga commences her journey to earth from heaven. It is also widely believed that autumn reaches it full blossom on Mahalaya.
On this day, people chant “Jago Tumi Jago”, a kind of invocation or invitation to the mother goddess to descend on earth. People also sing devotional songs of Durga Maa.
In 2016, Mahalaya Amavasya will be celebrated on 30th September 2016.
Mahalaya Celebrations in West Bangal :
As you all know Durga Puja is the main festival of West Bengal and it is annual five day holiday period in the State during Durga Puja. Bengali’s start the festivities of Durga Puja from Mahalaya.
Celebrations of Mahalaya are closely associated with a legendary Radio program broadcasted by All India Radio since 1930. On this day early in the morning, the All India Radio broadcasts the ‘Mahishasura Mardini’, the tale of Goddess Durga who brought an end of the demon Mahishasura.
The powerful recitation of Birendra Krishna Bhadra, the immaculate montage of ‘Chandi Kavya’ scripts, classical music and devotional songs still overwhelm Bengalis with its awe and charm.