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Mahalaya 2023: Date, History, Significance, and Celebrations

Mahalaya, on October 14, 2023, marks the start of Durga Puja and honors ancestors through Tarpan. It includes invoking Goddess Durga, reciting the Chandi Path, and cultural celebrations. The day holds deep cultural and spiritual significance in India

Mahalaya 2023: Date, History, Significance, and Celebrations ATG
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First Published Oct 13, 2023, 11:33 AM IST

Introduction: Mahalaya is a significant festival celebrated by the devotees of Maa Durga, occurring a week before the global commencement of Durga Puja festivities. This year, Mahalaya will be observed on October 14. In the rich tapestry of Indian culture, Mahalaya stands as a special thread, connecting the living with the departed. This auspicious festival signifies the initiation of Devi Paksha, the era dedicated to the goddess, and coincides with the culmination of Pitru Paksha, a 16-day lunar period during which Hindus pay respects to their ancestors, known as Pitras. It symbolizes the advent of Goddess Durga and heralds the Durga Puja festival, dedicated to her worship.

Mahalaya 2023: Date and Time: Mahalaya typically falls on the last day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month of Bhadra, which usually falls in September or October. This year, it is slated for October 14. The date is determined based on lunar calculations, and it marks the beginning of Devi Paksha, a special time dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga.

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The day follows the lunar calendar, and its timing varies each year. On Mahalaya, Amavasya Tithi begins at 9:50 PM on October 13, 2023, and ends at 11:24 PM on October 14, 2023. According to Drik Panchang, Kutup Muhurat will last from 11:44 AM to 12:30 PM, Rohina Muhurat from 12:30 PM to 01:16 PM, and Aparahna Kaal from 1:16 PM to 3:35 PM.

Mahalaya 2023: Cultural Significance:

1. The Invoking of the Goddess: Mahalaya is the day when the Devi Mahatmya, a sacred text honoring the goddess, is chanted to invoke the presence of Goddess Durga. This act is considered a spiritual call to welcome the divine mother and seek her blessings and protection.

2. Remembering the Ancestors: Mahalaya is also a day for paying tribute to one's ancestors. Families conduct a ritual known as "Tarpan," in which they offer water and prayers to the departed souls. It is believed that the blessings and guidance of ancestors are essential for the upcoming festivities.

3. The Unleashing of the Chandi Path: The recitation of verses from the Devi Mahatmya, known as the Chandi Path, is a crucial element of Mahalaya. It narrates the story of the fierce battle between Goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. This narrative sets the stage for the Durga Puja festival.

Mahalaya 2023: Celebrations:

1. Predawn Austerity: Devotees rise early in the morning and offer prayers to the Sun God, signifying the commencement of Mahalaya. Many individuals take a ritual bath in holy rivers or temples.

2. Tarpan: Families gather to perform Tarpan, offering water, flowers, and food to their ancestors. This solemn act establishes an emotional connection between the living and the departed.

3. Chandi Path: Recitation of the Chandi Path is an integral part of Mahalaya. Devotees visit temples and participate in community prayers to seek the blessings of Goddess Durga.

4. Cultural Programs: In various parts of India, people engage in cultural events, dance dramas, and artistic performances, contributing to the festive ambiance and fostering a sense of togetherness.

5. Listening to Mahisasura Mardini: The radio broadcast of Mahisasura Mardini by Birendra Krishna Bhadra is a central and cherished component of Mahalaya celebrations. Families gather around their radios, creating an enchanting atmosphere.

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