Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu, Shakti Rupen Samhastita, Namastasyayi, Namastasyayi, Namastasyayi Namoh Namaha…
Ma Durga is Here :)
This morning at the crack of dawn we heralded one of the most auspicious days in the Bengali calendar – Mahalaya. It is also the day which begins the count down to the most glamorous and one of the most strictly ritualistic festivals – the Durga Puja.
Durga Puja – the celebration of strength, the celebration of power, the celebration of beauty and most importantly, the celebration of womanhood! Durga Puja marks the culmination of all human and divine qualities into a woman and brings along with it a sense of freshness and a thrill that rushes down your veins. The sound of the conch shells, the full throated chanting of the Chandi (Veda), the sweet fragrance of flowers and incense that fills the air around us marks the advent of the glorious festival.
Today is Mahalaya, an auspicious occasion observed seven days before the Durga Puja, and heralds the advent of Durga, the goddess of supreme power. It’s a kind of invocation or invitation to the mother goddess to descend on earth. Just as one would associate strength, prowess, power to this festival there is also a sense of nostalgia that surrounds it. Bengalis all over the world have grown up to tales of the mother goddess coming home during pooja. She visiting her father’s home, which is this mortal earth where she spends ten days with her kith and kin brings with it a feeling of belonging with the divinity. A daughter visits her father’s home with all her children and the earth welcomes her in an open embrace.
Look around you and you will see the earth dressed in all its glory. The dark clouds of the monsoon have cleared off giving way to a sun kissed earth and pastures afresh. The sky is clear and white fleecy clouds float in gay abundance. Autumn is here and the trees have all shed bare to don new garments of the new season.
Durga Puja is about happiness and fanfare. New clothes, traditional Bengali recipes, pushpanjali (offering of flowers to the goddess)…it is a time to come together and rejoice for the mother has come. She brings in good news for the New Year. She is here amongst us to celebrate and spread cheer.
It is also the time to catch the Bengali in its full gusto. You will see the men dressed in traditional embroidered silk kurtas and fanned dhotis. With the wives in classical Bengali saris and jewelry, you can hear them chirp all over the place. Oblivious to the world, they all seem to be beaded into a common thread of cheerfulness and divinity.
Catch the Bengali in its truest colour this season, get there in the middle and taste a spice of the arty, emotionally driven Bengali community. Come, and join us in the grandeur of rituals and the biggest celebration of all – the Celebration of Motherhood.