So its that time of year again. The time when my Dad uncovers the cassette player and digs out two cassettes of devotional songs in Bengali from the pile of cassettes which are now ignored in today’s world of Winamp and Channel V. He plays them every year on the first day of this time of year at an unholy hour of 7.00 am that too quite loudly. And we know by listening to “Mahishashur Mardini” that its Mahalaya i.e. the beginning of Durga Puja that day. You can listen to some songs at this link here.
Mahalaya is an auspicious occasion observed seven days before the Durga Puja, and heralds the advent of Durga, the goddess of supreme power. It’s a kind of invocation or invitation to the mother goddess to descend on earth – “Jago Tumi Jago”. This is done through the chanting of mantras and singing devotional songs. Since the early 1930s, Mahalaya has come to associate itself with an early morning radio program called “Mahisasura Mardini” or “The Annihilation of the Demon.” This All India Radio (AIR) program is a beautiful audio montage of recitation from the scriptural verses of “Chandi Kavya”, Bengali devotional songs, classical music and a dash of acoustic melodrama. The program has also been translated into Hindi set to similar orchestration and is broadcast at the same time for a pan-Indian audience. This program has almost become synonymous with Mahalaya. For nearly six decades now, the whole of Bengal rises up in the chilly pre dawn hours, 4 am to be precise, of the Mahalaya day to tune in to the “Mahisasura Mardini” broadcast.
Its been two days since Mahalaya and Navratri has already begun. Durga Puja will begin from 5th Oct 2008. This time symbolizes shopping, eating and roaming for me. As there are lots of Bengalis in my city New clothes, new shoes, outings, eating Bhog and other non-veg items available at stalls at Puja Pandals. On the downside it also means meeting uncles and heavily bejeweled aunties and answering interrogative questions. Due to hectic life, I have not done the shopping part yet. Here are some videos taken by me of Durga Puja held last year. This year I’m planning to buy a digital camera in few days and I’ll be posting on this topic again with better videos and photos. I hope to capture the famous dhunuchi dance this year.
# The playing of dhaak in Durga Puja in sync with the aarti sets the festive mood and increases the excitement.
# The pandals of each area are made huge and usually a replica of some famous building. Even the idols are made on some theme usually the recent hot topic in politics or current affairs. I bet in Calcutta people will get to see some idols on the Singur issue.
Wish you all a very happy Durga Puja and Navratri. Enjoy!!!