With different religions, languages, and traditions, India has collectively become rich in festivals.West Bengal’s most popular annual festival, Durga puja, Mahalaya will be celebrated on September 17. Celebrated at the end of Shradh or Pitru Paksha, 16 days when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors, the day is celebrated by Bengalis across the globe with much fervour and zeal. However, due to a ‘mala mash’ is a month, which has two new moons or ‘Amavasya’, this year Durga Puja will begin after 35-days of Subho Mahalaya.
Mahalaya is an amalgamation of two words- ‘maha’ which means great and ‘alaya’ meaning abode. Mahalaya is an oratorical invocation to the goddess urging her to arrive on earth. It marks the beginning of 10 days celebration of Durga Puja. As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga was created by all supreme powers of the Universe to destroy demon Mahisasura, who was wreaking havoc on Earth.
The occasion is associated with different practices and rituals. Many people perform tarpan on this day to offer prayers to the departed souls of their ancestors and offer bhog to the Brahmins, along with food and other materials to the needy. Mahalaya brings with it a feeling of positivity, festivity and warmth ahead of the start of the most anticipated festival.
It is one day when every Bengali wakes up at 4 am and turn their radios on to listen to the recital of Mahisasura Mardini by Birendra Krishna Bhadra to mark the beginning of the much-awaited festival, Durga Pujo.
Here’s everything you need to know about Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s recitation of Mahishasura Mardini:
- The Mahisasurmardini is a popular early Bengali radio programme that has been broadcast since 1931 on All India Radio (AIR).
- The Chandipath that Birendra Krishna Bhadra has immortalised in his voice narrates that Durga, the primeval source of power — Goddess Chandika, the eternal.
- A one and half-hour audio montage of Chandipath along with Bengali devotional songs, classical music, and acoustics, the programme is aired every year at day-break on Mahalaya.
- All India Radio experimented with Mahisasura Mardini in the voices of Manabendra Mukhopadhyay, Arati Mukhopadhyay, Utpala Sen, Tarun Banerjee, Krishna Dasgupta, Shyamal Mitra, and also Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, however, no one could create the same magic as Bhadra.