Mahalaya: The homecoming of the Goddess, of our Mother. Today is the day our Mother comes to her Earth. This home coming is abrupt and uncalled for and so, it is also known as "Akal Bodhan".
The ritual, as the legend says was started by Lord Rama to obtain blessings during his war wit Ravana.Commendable Lord Rama calls Shakti (Durga) to fight Ravana who is a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva, Ma Durga's Husband. Ten Hands, Fiery Eyes, Half Opened Third Eye and all equipped Mother for me was the source of Awe and inspiration. She always said to me "If you want it to be done then do it yourself, put your 1000% and let it happen."
While growing up outside my native place, my Durga Puja was not a typical saga of the Pandal making and shopping in the streets of Kolkata but it was the Durga Puja which signalled my home coming, our home coming to our home. Do not get me wrong here, I am a Human first and then an Indian but then it is hard to resist the pampering of our Grand Mothers and Uncle and the delicacies which are cooked with 100% love and lots of pampering. It was that time of the year where my otherwise strict and perfect parents became children. My Father never woke up before 8 am on holidays but now he is all up at 4 am and following his Mother, my Grandmother wherever she is going. My mother is a workaholic, you never find her sitting but this time of year my Mother became the daughter who can chat all day long with her mother, brothers and sister-in-laws. As far as me and my brother were concerned, we had a gala time getting spoiled for a week.
All this started with "Mahalaya". The frantic preparations, the last minute shopping spree, the train PNR checking and rechecking, The extra caution regarding our health so that we are fit for the journey. The morning 4am broadcast of "Ya Devi Sarwabhuteshu...." was an alarm clock to wake us up and start doing these activities.
My memories with Mahalaya is special, we used to wake up an hour before than usual, 4 am tuned in to the All India radio and listened to the Mahalaya, with the family, sometimes others also used to join (Bengalis who were bachelors or newly married) and then half awaken we used to hear our mother come, with hope filled eyes. That day no one could make me concentrate on my studies. I was elated as always.
This day is the Chaksudaan, giving the idol the eyes and thus now the idol is a step closer being the frame for our Mother. All the work, all the dedication coming to fruition.
Today is the day we pray for our departed parent(s) and elders and thus it is a special day with a whole new dimension for the past seven years as this is one day I reconnect with my Father again.
This day is bundled with so many memories and hopes and on a personal front it is the day of the year which I wait for most eagerly.