Mahalaya is an auspicious occasion celebrated at the end of Pitri Paksha, a 16-day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors.
It is believed that this is the time when Goddess Durga descends from Kailasha to the earth, her maternal home.
Extending wishes on this day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to his Twitter handle and wrote, “This Mahalaya, we pray to Maa Durga to bless with strength to overcome the global pandemic. May the divine blessings of Maa Durga ensure good health and happiness in everyone’s life. May our planet prosper! Shubho Mahalaya!”
Incidentally, today is also PM Modi’s 70th birthday. He was born on September 17, 1950.
Besides the PM, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged everyone to come forward and extend help to those in need in this hour of crisis. She said that though COVID-19 has changed the daily lives, people should not let the prevailing pandemic dampen the spirit of the festivities.
“On the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya, I extend my warm regards to one & all. Although #COVID19 has restricted how we celebrate festivals, we shall not allow it to dampen the spirit of this Durga Puja. To this end & to lighten up every home, I undertake #MahalayaProtishruti”, Banerjee tweeted.
“As a part of this pledge, I vow to ensure that this Durga Pujo, no one is devoid of the festivities. I urge everyone to come forward, extend a helping hand to those in need & spread joy everywhere. Shubho Mahalaya to everyone!” she added.
As a yearly tradition, people across West Bengal, and indeed many other parts of the country, tune in to the radio to listen to the more than an hour long Mahishasur Mardini.
For the uninitiated, Mahishasur Mardini is a Bengali and Sanskrit radio program that has been broadcast since 1931 and narrates the story of how Goddess Durga descended to earth and defeated Mahishasura.