MAHALAYA-Unending and ever increasing impact

Tarpan at the Ganges-MahalayaOct 7, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): The countdown now starts for Durga Puja. End of Pithripaksha culminates with the initiation of Debipaksha on Mahalaya. The day is also associated with ‘Tarpan’, our ‘parampara’, a tradition of offering water and prayers to all departed souls, our ancestors, forefathers, even dead animals and insects in mantras of high poetic order composed in the Vedic era The day is important for the Bengalees, in particular, who prepare for ‘Akalbodhan’ (the untimely worship) of Devi Durga following Ram prior to his Battle in Lanka well before Debi’s autumn worship schedule at the instance of Raja Suratha.

But no, we won’t elaborate on the myths. Instead let us focus on what we now actually mean by ‘Mahalaya’- the pre-dawn radio programme since 1930 by Birendra Krishna Bhadra and his team. The chanting of ‘Chandi Stotra’ by Birendra Krishna in his mesmerizing voice could not even be substituted by the legendary megastar Uttam Kumar after the demise of Birendra Krishna. Through ages the programme is not only popular but appeals to virtually all sects of our people beyond region, caste and creed. “Our Dadima,” claimed Ajijur Rahaman, the famous recitation artist, “used to call us early in the morning so that we could not miss the Mahalaya. We even used to cry with all day mood off, had we failed to wake up in time for that. It’s now a part of our culture-our identity.”

A script by Bani Kumar and songs of legenday singers Shyamal Mitra, Pankaj Mallik, Sandhya Mukhopadhya, Hemanta Mukhopadhya and finally the ‘Chandipath’ by Birendra Krishna Bhadra –‘Ya Devi Sarvabhutesu’ is yet to find match; with an impact that is unending and ever increasing as well.

Good wishes to all Bengalees, Indians and our viewers worldwide on this holy occasion.

-Sambit Basu

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