WHAT THEHEEBEE SAYS ABOUT SHUBHO MAHALAYA:
As I woke up on the morning of 19-Sep-2017, I noticed that there are many “Shubho Mahalaya” messages going around. Everyone is wishing their Bengali friends “Shubho Mahalaya” and the Bengalis are returning the wish with a lot of happiness. It felt as if this exchange of “Shubho Mahalaya” wish is blessing everyone and everything around.
I could definitely sense that this is an important festival or occasion for the people from West Bengal. I initially did some google search about it. and then ended up opening ten different pages explaining the significance of this festival. Then I realized that I could get the best understanding about Mahalaya from a Bong friend. So later in the day, I was talking to a friend who explained me about it with a lot of pride and intense sentiments. I then requested him to write a guest post about Mahalaya on our blog. Below is a beautiful post about Mahalaya by Mr. Debjyoti Mukherjee.
Mahalaya is special for every single Bengali. It marks the beginning of Durga Puja, The most important festival for every Bengali. It is the end of Pitri Paksha and the start of Devi Paksha. It is also known as the day on which Maa Durga took birth, who was created by the supreme Gods – Bramha, Vishnu, and Mahesh, to defeat the demon king Mahishasur!
When I remember Mahalaya, I can’t stop from recollecting all the fun that we used to have as a kid. Everyone eagerly waits for Mahalaya and the kids, in particular, are the most excited of lots. The first thing is to keep an early morning alarm to watch “MahishasurMardini” program on DD7 Bengali TV channel. Kids say “Mahalaya Sunte Habe” and start the preparations a day before. The program is about 40 to 60 minutes and it depicts how Maa Durga killed the demon king Mahishasur. It is followed by Bengali Spiritual songs and this start of the day makes the complete environment pious and spiritual. Another custom on Mahalaya morning was to listen the popular Mahishasur Mardini by Birendra Bhadra on the All India Radio. His magical voice used to give goosebumps.
After the spiritual start of the day next is to splurge on the scrumptious sweets and savories. Friends and families gather at the nearby snack shop and splurge on hot Aalu Chop and Singada (Samosa) accompanied by Muri (puffed rice). This is followed by Rosogulla and Desi Ghee Jalebi!! The breakfast is usually prolonged and fulfilling… everyone then starts preparing for the evening cultural program!
Mahalaya evenings are marked with a series of events and ceremonies. One of the very important ceremonies is called “Chokhhu Daan“, the ceremony of creating the eyes of Maa Durga’s idol. Everyone gathers at the Dalan (Temple) where this ceremony takes place. It is the time to experience the eternal bliss and epitome of spirituality. It is as if Maa Durga has now truly appeared in that idol and will be with us for next ten days.
Football has a special place in hearts of Bengali. Playing football match is like a ceremony during festivals. In the evenings the children divide themselves into different teams and play football. The winning team treats the losing team and everyone enjoys.
In the evening, the cultural program starts with Rabindra Sangeet. It is followed by various activities like a dance by kids and adults, singing songs, plays, drama, solo performances etc and ends with a play of Mahishasur Mardini. People gather in large numbers from surrounding localities to participate in the cultural programs.
Mahalaya ends with Authentic Bengali Bhog that comprises of Gobindo Bhater Kichuri (Kichdi), Tomato chutney, Tarkari(Mixed Vegetable Curry), Payesh and Papad. Everyone wishes each other and then leave for their homes.
I truly miss those golden days from my childhood, those memories I still cherish when I think about Mahalaya.
HAPPY MAHALAYA TO EVERYONE.