Durga Puja in Full Swing: A Festival of Art, Culture, and Tradition

Editor Editor
Saturday, October 14, 2023
Durga Puja in Full Swing: A Festival of Art, Culture, and Tradition
Mahalaya 2023: A Day of Fasting, Prayers, and the Promise of Goodness
Mahalaya, an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar, holds a special place in the hearts of millions of Bengalis and devotees of Goddess Durga worldwide. This day marks the onset of the much-awaited Durga Puja, a festival celebrated with unparalleled fervor and enthusiasm. Mahalaya, which typically falls in September or October, is not just a ritual but a cultural extravaganza that binds people in a celebration of righteousness, the triumph of good over evil, and the arrival of Maa Durga on Earth.

The Significance of Mahalaya

Mahalaya signifies the commencement of Devi Paksha, the auspicious period when Goddess Durga descends to Earth. According to Hindu mythology, Mahalaya is believed to be the day when the Goddess begins her journey from her heavenly abode to Earth. Devotees fervently invoke her to descend and protect them from the forces of evil.

The Legend of Mahalaya

The origins of Mahalaya are deeply rooted in the ancient scriptures and legends. One of the most famous legends associated with Mahalaya is the tale of Mahishasura Mardini. This legend narrates the story of Goddess Durga defeating the buffalo demon Mahishasura, signifying the victory of good over evil. The story has been popularized through the timeless "Mahishasura Mardini" hymn, which is played on the radio and television on Mahalaya morning, a tradition that has continued for decades.

Chandipath and Tarpan: Rituals of Mahalaya

Mahalaya is a day of rituals and offerings to the departed souls. Families gather at the banks of sacred rivers and perform the Tarpan ritual, which involves offering water and prayers to their ancestors. The chanting of "Chandipath," which recounts the battles and victories of Goddess Durga, is another integral part of the Mahalaya observance.

Fasting on Mahalaya

Fasting is a significant aspect of Mahalaya. Devotees, as a mark of their devotion and purification, often abstain from consuming food until they offer their prayers and make offerings to the Goddess. This fasting, known as "Mahalaya Amavasya fasting," is an essential part of invoking the blessings of Maa Durga. The fast is typically broken after the Tarpan ritual, which marks the end of the Shradh period.

The Onset of Durga Puja

Mahalaya marks the official commencement of Durga Puja, a festival that extends over five days and culminates with Vijaya Dashami, the day of victory. As Mahalaya unfolds, artisans across Bengal are busy giving finishing touches to the magnificent idols of the Goddess, her children, and the buffalo demon Mahishasura. These idols, when completed, are placed in intricately decorated pandals, showcasing exquisite artistry.

Cultural Celebrations

Mahalaya also marks the beginning of a festive season that unites people of all backgrounds. The spirit of community and cultural celebrations are unparalleled. The week leading up to Durga Puja is a time for families and friends to come together, exchange gifts, enjoy traditional food, and immerse themselves in the grandeur of the pandals.


Mahalaya is a day that transcends religious boundaries and connects people to their roots, their heritage, and the essence of good triumphing over evil. It's a time to celebrate the arrival of Maa Durga and the anticipation of her divine presence during Durga Puja. This year, as Mahalaya 2023 dawns, let us embrace the significance of this occasion, and the lessons it imparts, and revel in the vibrant festivities that follow, strengthening the bonds of community and culture. As Mahalaya marks the transition from the Shradh period to Navaratri and the conclusion of Pitru Paksha, it paves the way for a joyous and spiritually enriching season dedicated to the adoration of Goddess Durga. Navaratri will commence on October 15 and extend up to Dusshera on October 24, allowing devotees to revel in nine days of celebration, dance, and devotion.