September 16, 2020 2:08:30 pm
Mahalaya marks the end of Pitru Paksha Shraddha and heralds the beginning of Durga Puja for Bengalis. This year, Mahalaya Amavasya will be observed on September 17, 2020. Normally, celebrations for Durga Puja begin seven days after Mahalaya. In 2020, however, the much-awaited festival would be held a month after Mahalaya. So, Durga Puja celebrations will be held this year between October 22 (Shashthi) and October 26 (Vijaya Dashami).
Why will Durga Puja 2020 be held 35 days after Mahalaya?
According to Bisuddha Siddhanta and Suryasiddhanta, both schools of almanacs, the unusual gap between Mahalaya and Durga Puja is because of a phenomenon called ‘mala mash’ or a lunar month that has two new moons, The Stateman said in a report. During this month, no auspicious festival or rituals can be observed. Bengali month Ashwin is a lunar month, and Durga Puja can only be held after it is over.
While it is an unusual schedule, it is not the first time that Durga Puja will be delayed. The last time this happened was in 2001 when Durga Puja was observed 30 days after Mahalaya.
That said, Bengalis get into the festive mood right from the time of Mahalaya. While puja pandals get their final touches, people start buying new clothes and make plans for the festival, although the celebrations are likely to be different amid the pandemic.
How is Mahalaya observed?
On this day, Bengalis traditionally wake up in the morning to listen to Mahisasuramardni, an audio montage of Chandipath recitation from the scriptural verses of Sri Sri Chandi along with devotional songs. Then they make food and water offerings to deceased ancestors.
It is believed that goddess Durga begins her journey from Mount Kailash to her maternal home on Earth after Mahalaya, on either a palanquin, boat, elephant or horse.
The ‘Devi Paksha’ or the auspicious period when Durga puja celebrated, will begin on October 17 with ‘Pratipad’ or the first day of Sharadiya Navratri.
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