Mahalaya is an auspicious day for Bengalis. It is the beginning of Devi Paksha and also the end of Pitri- Paksha. This day is not only about observing rituals for us, but it evokes lots of emotions and nostalgia. Though I am staying in Northern India for last two decades, but I have lived my puja days on these childhood memories. Here, there is no concept of Mahalaya and the sentiments attached to the occasion, though I personally try to follow the old footsteps. I remember, in my childhood, my grandparents used to go to Ganga to take a holy dip and then offered reverence to the famous Dakshineswar Kali Mandir. But the most amazing thing was to wake up, get refreshed and sit in front of our grand old Radio at 4 o’clock in the morning.
I remember, a day prior to that, we used to check the batteries of our Radio, check the alarm clock again and again. It was an extravaganza for us. And then the baritone voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra, reciting the hymns from Shri Shri Chandi echoed and rippled through the house, neighborhood areas and may be across the ocean. As the recital begins, the serene morning air resonates with the long drawn sound of the sacred conch shell, followed by a tune in Raga Malkosh, which ultimately leads to the start of the programme with the prayer to Goddess Chandi. Immediately an atmosphere is created full of assurance, respect and universal love and peace.
Interestingly, Mahisasuramardini is a widely popular early Bengali radio programme that has been broadcaste since 1931 on All India Radio (AIR) in Indian state of West Bengal. It is a one and half-hour audio montage of recitation from the scriptural verses of Sri Sri Chandi or Durga Saptashati, Bengali devotional songs, classical music and a dash of acoustic melodrama. The programme was organised by Pankaj Kumar Mallik, Premankur Aatorthi, Birendra Krishna Bhadra, Nripendra Krishna Mukhopadhyay and Raichand Boral. This program has become synonymous with Mahalaya which is celebrated to usher the Debipaksha lunar fortnight and the Durga Puja.
The sky looks brighter & blue; the clouds are now in leisurely mood. In my childhood days, there used to be books on lyrics of puja songs, specially published on this occasion. But now days, no such books are there to enrich your song vocabs, neither the smell of fresh print to give you goosebumps. But without much of disappointment, Kash Fool and Shiuli have taken place in our bong psychic world, and after this Mahalaya morning, the countdown is set for the next seven days. Last moment shopping, rechecking the list and making some plans with friends & families and hope for something impromptu to happen—
OMG! Too much is taking place.