Mahalaya is celebrated at the beginning of the Durga Pooja festival, which is observed in the states of Karnataka, Odisha, Tripura, and West Bengal. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that on this day Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheswar created Goddess Durga to defeat the demon king Mahishasura.It is the last day of Pitru Paksha aka Sarva Pitru Amavasya.
The day is significant as it is the end of Pitru Paksha Shraddha and the beginning of Durga Puja for the Bengali community and some parts of India. Pitru Paksha marks the period to worship the ancestors and offer them prayers.
On this day, the devotees pay homage to their forefathers through a tarpan or shraddha. From this day, the Goddess Durga started her journey from Kailash to the Earth. It is considered that she travelled on a palanquin, boat or elephant, or by horse. Durga puja begins on the seventh day of Mahalaya and ends on the tenth day of Dusshera.
This year Mahalaya will start from October 06, 2021. People wake up early in the morning to worship Goddess Durga by reciting Chandipath and other devotional mantras.
The dawn of Mahalaya holds a special significance to the millions of Bengalis in India, Bangladesh, and beyond. At 4am sharp, households tune in to their FM radios, where the All India Radio (AIR) continues to broadcast editions of the Mahishasura Mardini programme every year. Although the radio may now have been replaced by its more modern, easily accessible alternatives – the age-old tradition continues in several homes with its peculiar mix of nostalgia and hope as if to defy the passage of time.