Mahalaya in West Bengal in 2024

Mahalaya in West Bengal in 2024
  How long until Mahalaya?
  Dates of Mahalaya in West Bengal
2025 Sun, Sep 21Regional Holiday
2024 Wed, Oct 2Regional Holiday
2023 Sat, Oct 14Regional Holiday
2022 Sun, Sep 25Regional Holiday
2021 Wed, Oct 6Regional Holiday

Marks the first day of the festival of Durga Puja

In India, Mahalaya is a public holiday in several states.

Mahalaya is celebrated on the last day of ‘Krishnapaksha’, the dark fortnight of Ashwin month. The next day marks the beginning of Sharad, heralding the 10-day Durga Puja festival.

Traditions of Mahalaya

Mahalaya marks the start of the Durga Puja festival. On this day, the goddess Durga is believed to have descended to Earth. This marks the end of ‘Pitri Paksha’, a 16-day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors. Hindus mark the last day of ‘Pitri Paksha’ with ‘tarpan’, a ritualistic offering to their departed kin or ancestors. The ritual is performed by taking a holy dip in the Ganges or other water bodies and sending up prayers in memory of their forefathers.

Mahalaya is marked by large, elaborately crafted statutes of Durga which are set up in homes and on decorated podiums called Pandals. On this day, sculptors who have shaped the goddess Durga from lumps of clay, start painting her eyes. In Bengal, it is a ritual called ‘Chakkhudaan’. With ‘Chakkhudaan’, the Goddess, true to rituals, is invoked and aroused with a prayer to open her eyes.

A few days later, the idols set off on trucks from the studios to their eventual moorings at gilded and exquisitely crafted Puja pandals.

Durga Puja

Durga Puja celebrates the ten-armed mother goddess and her victory over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura.

While celebrated across India, In West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, it is the biggest festival of the year and the most significant cultural event in Bengali Hindu society.

The rituals of Durga Puja last ten days with the start and the last five days being special festivals that are reflected in public holidays in some states in India.

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