Mahalaya, an auspicious occasion that heralds the advent of Goddess Durga, was celebrated on Saturday (Oct 14) morning with due religious fervour and gaiety just a week ahead of Durga Puja, the largest festival of the Bangalee Hindu community slated for Oct 20-24. This invitation is extended through the chanting of mantras from Sri Sri Chandi and singing of devotional songs as countdown for Durga Puja began with the celebration of Mahalaya, local media reported.
On the occasion of the day, special programmes of Mahalaya were arranged at different temples across the country, including the capital at the dawn. Hindu community members remembered and paid homage to their ancestors, who passed away, by performing puja, and offering clothes, food and sweets to Brahmins in their ancestors' names.
Mahanagar Sarbajanin Puja Committee arranged a special one-hour programme at Dhakeshwari National Temple at 6 a.m. as Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pranay Verma along with his spouse Manu Verma attended the inaugural ceremony which began with the lighting up of pradip (earthen lamps) on the temple premises.
Manindra Kumar Nath, president of Mahanagar Sarbajanin Puja Committee, said a group of artistes from different disciplines of Dhaka University including music and theater and performance and other cultural organizations performed songs, dances and dance drama signifying the advent of Goddess Durga. Several private televisions broadcast it live. Later, tarpan, a ritual in which water is offered to the ancestors' souls, was performed at the Beltala on the temple premises at 7.30 a.m.
Gulshan-Banani Sarbajanin Puja Foundation organised a programme welcoming Goddess Durga at 5:30 a.m. at Banani playground in the capital. Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud attended the event as the chief guest.
Different programmes were arranged at Ramna Kali Mandir as Mangol Pradips (sacred earthen lamp) were lit up at 6 a.m. commencing the one and a half hours long programme. Awami League organizing secretary Sujit Roy Nandi attended the programme as a huge number of devotees enjoyed the programme and offered tarpan in nearby ponds.
Ramna Kali Mandir managing committee president Utpal Saha said indigenous culture and heritage of this soil of hundreds of years and works of poets like Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Radaraman Dutta and Lalon Shah were portrayed along with the performances of songs and dances welcoming the goddess.
Similar programmes were also arranged in different temples in the capital city and across the country.
According to mythology, Goddess Durga was created on the day of Mahalaya by Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheswar to defeat the demon king Mahishasura so that devotees mark this day as the arrival of Goddess Durga to Earth from Kailash Parvat with her divine powers. On this day, clay artisans only make Goddess Durga's eyes and fill colours in them.
Mahalaya, which is celebrated six days before Durga Puja, also marks the end of Pitru Paksha, is a 16-lunar day period in the Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors, especially through food offerings, and beginning of 'Devipaksha'.
Devipaksha commences with Mahalaya Amavasya that marks the last day of 'Krishna Paksha', which is a dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin.
Social media is abuzz with photos and videos shared and posted by Hindu community members welcoming the advent of Goddess Durga. Members of different faiths also greeted Hindus on the occasion of Mahalaya on social media.
On Oct 20, the five-day Durga Puja will begin with various rituals including Bodhon (incarnation), Abahon and Adhibas on the day of Maha Shashthi while it will come to an end with the immersion of idols on the day of Bijoya Dashami followed by Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami and Maha Nabami puja on Oct 21, Oct 22 and Oct 23 respectively.