“रूपं देहि जयं देहि यशो देहि द्विषो जहि”
The inaugural ceremony of this auspicious festival!!
The inception of the celebrations for Durga Puja is going, to begin with, much gusto from today onwards because the first day is marked as the auspicious beginning of Durga Puja and is named as ‘MAHALAYA‘, which means ‘homecoming’. According to the beliefs and traditions, Goddess Durga(a form of Goddess Parvati) who was married to Lord Shiva returns from Kailash to her paternal residence during this pious occasion, and the preparation of months is made for her homecoming. There is a belief that every year, Goddess Durga settles upon a medium for transportation, and this year (2018) it is believed that she is forthcoming by boat and will be returning on the giant elephant!
Nevertheless, the countdown of this joyous festival begins when the artisan takes their first step to bring the idols of God and Goddess into existence. But from today, Everybody seems to get infused with the festive fervor. From this day, the preparations for Durga Puja reaches the final stage.
According to Bengali tradition, Mahalaya is associated with an early morning Radio/Audio program called “Mahisasur Mardini” which means the annihilation of the demon, Mahishasur. It is believed that listening to the audio montage of recitation gives inner peace and utter satisfaction on this occasion which includes devotional music and mantras with a dash of dramatic and historic acts. It is the rule of the road for Bengalis to wake up precisely at 4 am and tune into the program. The story of the program says that when the increasing cruelty of the demon was made known, the trio Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara (Shiva) in unison created an omnipotent female form with ten arms- The Goddess Durga to crucify the demon. The goddess- armed with weapons in each of her hands, carried by a mighty lion, ends the trivial energy of the demon by her trident. And mantra for the supreme women power is played which come out as ‘या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्ति-रूपेण संस्थिता। नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥‘.
According to Hindu tradition, It is believed that Mahalaya is the day when Pitri Paksha ends and Devi Paksha starts and is believed that this is the best time to do any sacred work. Kalash or Ghata Sthapana is observed the very next day after Mahalaya, in which a clay pot is used to sow some barley seeds, coins, soil, and drench them into the holy water of river Ganga followed by the rituals of chanting mantras. Some raw rice, coconut is wrapped around a red cloth and placed on the clay pot which marks the completion of the Stapana. And for the next 9 days, there is a heady aroma of incense stick and flowers everywhere. Kalash Sthapana is known to be a revered ritual which represents the inner meaning of worshipping the universe for the creation of everything around.
In a nutshell, be it any tradition, the devotees with sheer innocence and purity bows down to worship Goddess Durga during the festival of Durga Puja!!