Monday, September 29, 2008

Mahalaya - The first day of "Devi paksha"

"Mahalaya" is the day from which countdown starts for the biggest festival of autumn season in Bengal. This is the new moon day that marks the end of "Pitri paksha", that is the period of the Gods, and the beginning of "Devi paksha", that is the period of the Goddesses. This is the day to pay homage to our ancestors to seek their blessings before we get into the celebration mood of the festival days.

People flock to the nearby banks of the river Ganga to observe the rituals of Mahalaya. Priests come early to execute the ritualistic procedures for themselves and to look for opportunities to earn a few extra money by guiding others who seek to be their "Yajmans" (the customers). Others set up temporary stalls on the bank of the river to sell items related to the ritual.

It is the festive season knocking at the door. So everyone is eager for that extra money which they can earn on this occasion. Even the children living in the streets nearby get into their business of fishing out the coins thrown at the river Ganga as offerings. They throw a stack of ring shaped magnets tied with a very long nylon thread into water to pull out the coins for them.The preparation for the four days long festival picks up huge momentum from this day.

To see all the photographs of Mahalaya please visit my Picasa album.

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