Durga Puja countdown starts

A traditional idol of Durga and her four children
A traditional idol of Durga and her four children

October 12 (TravelAndy): All the Bengali people of the world officially went into Durga Puja mode since All India Radio aired the Mahisasuramardini programme at 4am this morning. Today is referred to as Mahalaya on the festival calendar.

Durga Puja is the biggest festival of the Bengalis and it usually takes place over four days in or around October depending on the Hindu lunar calendar. Though the core of the festival is religious, it has now developed into more of a Bengali cultural carnival.

Mahalaya marks the end of the Pitripaksha (fortnight of the father) and the start of the Devi Paksha (fortnight of the goddess). The actual festival takes place between the seventh and tenth days of Devipaksha.

All India Radio first aired Mahisasuramardini in 1931. At that point, it used to be a live programme with Sanskrit chanting and classical music. It’s recorded version began to be aired since 1958 and it’s popularity has not diminished till date even though this recording is available in audio CD formats.

“I went to bed pretty late but woke up at 4am to listen to Mahalaya,” said Pritha Biswas, a media professional.

Mahalaya today has come to be identified with this programme. The dramatic voice behind the rendition is that of Birendra Krishana Bhadra, who passed away in 1991.


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