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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Celebration of the Devi Shakti : Maha Navmi | Worship Goddess Siddhidhatri on the Ninth Day of Navratri

Navratri is celebrated to honor and glorify the spirit of Goddess Durga, also known as the Devi Shakti inside us

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Maha Navmi
During Navratri celebrations, devout Hindus honor the existence, presence and power of the Devi Shakti. Pixabay

New Delhi, September 29, 2017 : The last eight days have witnessed immense zeal and fervor among devotees who got together to celebrate Sharad Navratri and honor the nine auspicious nights of goddess Durga. According to the Hindu dharma, there are four Navratris in one year; however, only two of them are celebrated in a magnificent way, one of them being Sharad Navratri. This year, the festival was observed from September 21– 29. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.

Why do we celebrate Navratri?

‘Nav’ means ‘nine’ and ‘ratri’ means ‘night’. Thus, ‘Navratri’ means the festival of the ‘nine nights’.

Navratri is celebrated to honor and glorify the spirit of Goddess Durga, also known as the Devi Shakti inside us. It is popularly believed that this spirit alone can help us destroy all negative traits like obsession, pride and aversions.

By turning to the Devi during Navratri, and getting in touch with her spirit in us, devotees attempt to overcome these negative qualities and invoke positive tendencies.

Celebration of the Devi Shakti

Shakti translates to energy and the Devi (goddess) of Shakti in the Hindu dharma is revered as the primitive source of energy that maintains and sustains all forms on creation of the earth.

The Devi Shakti, or the feminine spirit, manifests itself in multiple forms, nine of which are worshiped during the Navratri.

Each form of the goddess encompasses and supplements traits such as strength, beauty, compassion, , power, fear and transformation. Thus, during Navratri celebrations, devout Hindus honor the existence, presence and power of the Devi Shakti.

Maha Navmi
Nine firms of the Devi Shakti are worshiped during the Navratri. IANS

The Different Avatars of Durga

The nine nights of Navratri celebrate and honor the nine different aspects of Mother Divine on each day, known as Nava Durga. These are,

  1. Maa Shailaputri
  2. Maa Brahmacharini
  3. Maa Chandraghanta
  4. Maa Kushmanda
  5. Maa Skandamata
  6. Maa Kathyayini
  7. Maa Kaalaratri
  8. Maa Maha Gauri
  9. Maa Siddhidhatri

Day 9 of Navratri : Maha Navmi

The ninth and the final day of worship before Vijaya Dashami is known as Navmi, also known as Maha Navmi. This marks the end of the Sharad Navratri.

ALSO READ Get Your Home Festive Ready for Dussehra and Diwali!

Spiritual Significance of Maha Navmi

According to the Hindu mythology, goddess Durga fought the king of demons, Mahishasur for nine consecutive days. The ninth day is the absolute day when the goddess’ power, righteousness, and wisdom won over the evil forces.

On this day, the ninth avatar of goddess Durga is worshiped – Maa Siddhidhatri.

Ninth form of Durga – Maa Siddhidhatri

It is believed that goddess Durga’s manifestation in his form happened upon entering the body of Lord Shiva and assuming the left half of it.

Maa Siddhidhatri sits on a red lotus and is also seen riding a lion at times. The goddess has a mace, conch, and a lotus in her four hands.

Ruling over the planet Ketu, Maa Siddhidhatri governs the minds of people and motivates them towards a disciplined and spiritual life. Devotees believe worshiping this avatar of goddess Durga leads them on a path of self-exploration and higher spiritual knowledge.

Maha Navmi
9 Forms of Durga. Pixabay

Goddess Siddhidhatri is believed to bring fulfillment and totality in every sphere of life, which is why devout Hindus celebrate the last day of Navratri to please and pray to the goddess.

Rituals of Maha Navmi

  • In many parts of North and East India, Kanya Puja or Kanjak is observed on Maha Navmi. Following the rituals, nine young girls are worshiped as the nine avatars of goddess Durga. Following the puja which includes chanting various mantras and lighting incense sticks, the kanjaks are fed food specially prepared for them. They are also presented with gifts as tokens of respect and love.
  • In eastern India, Maha Navmi is synonymous with the third day of Durga Puja. The celebrations begin with a holy bath and are followed by the Shodhasopachar puja. On this day, the goddess is worshipped in the avatar of the goddess who killed Mahishasur, Mahishasuramardini.
  • In several parts of Southern India, many children begin preparing for their academic year from this day.

ALSO READ Significance of Kanjak Puja in Navratri, What Each Age Group of Young Girls Depicts?

Color for the day : Purple

Navratri Ninth Day Maa Siddhidhatri Mantras

“Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah”

and

“Om Devi Siddhidatryayi Namah Siddha Gandharva Yakshdyairasurairamarairapi

Sevyamaanaa Sadabhuyaat Siddhida Siddhidayini”

 

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Sindoor Khela: Bengali women play with sindoor on vijayadashami

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www.durgapujaonline.com

Sindoor Khela: It is an age old ritual that on the last day of Durga puja “Vijayadashami”, women apply sindoor/sindur on the goddess’s feet or forehead and then start smearing it to all the married women around. However, unmarried women or widows are not allowed to celebrate Sindoor Khela.

Sindoor Khela celebrates the pride that Bengali wives take in having a husband and to wish a long happy life of her better half.

The customary “Sindoor Khela” marks the end of the biggest festival of the Bengalis. It is the time when all the actresses in Kolkata get together and splash each other with the vermilion.

History of Sindoor Khela:

Sindoor Khela dates back to around 400 years. It was the time when people had just started celebrating Durga Puja. According to a famous legend, every year Maa Durga during Durga Puja, comes back to her parents place (father Giriraj and mother Menoka). She also brings her daughters (Saraswati and Lakshmi), two sons (Ganesh and Kartik) and 2 companions (Bijoya and Jaya) along with her. Maa Durga stays along with her parents for only 4 days and on Vijayadashami, she has to return to Shiva (her husband) in the far Himalayas. Before bidding the final goodbye to the Goddess, women apply sindoor on Durga’s feet and forehead and then they play with vermilion or sindoor with each other. They also pray to the Goddess for their happy and long married lives.

Photos by Saptojoy Ghosh

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Significance of Kanjak Puja in Navratri, What Each Age Group of Young Girls Depicts?

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Kanjak Puja
9 Forms of Durga. Pixabay

Sep 25, 2017: Navratri has great significance in Hinduism and the nine days of Navratri is considered the most auspicious days of the year. The celebration of Navratri comes twice every year and in the two celebrations, young girls are worshiped in Kanjak Puja.

On the ninth day of Navratri, 9 girls are worshiped to please Goddess Durga. One thing to recall is that upon the arrival of Navratri, the young girls of various ages ought to be venerated.

 The reason behind worshipping girls of different ages in Kanjak Puja:

The young girl of a 2-year-old young lady is called Kanya and a three-year-old young girl is called Trimurti. By worshiping her, riches, bliss, success increment in the life and all worrisome issues in the family winds up.

The 4-year-old young girl is called Kalyani, by worshiping her, the home remains loaded with joy and thriving, overcoming obstacles.

Also Read: 8 Reasons why you Should be Fasting this Navratri 

On the fifth day of Navratri, the aficionado should worship the five-year-old girl, the little girl of this age is called Rohini, worshiping the Rohini girl is good for the devotee’s health.

The 7-year-old girl is called Chandika, by venerating her, the house is filled with prosperity, while an eight-year-old girl is called Shambhavi, by worshiping her, poverty stays away.

The 9-year-old girl is considered as the form of Goddess Durga. By worshipping her, all the hurdles from the life gets eliminated.