The conch has been blown. The holy month of West Bengal has arrived. The most awaited time that marks the beginning of a series of festivals. The Holy land of India is known for its diverse culture, vibrancy, festivals and celebrations. Like every state of India, West Bengal too has its festivals and flavors to show off to the world and that is: Durga Puja, Fish Curry and Rosogolla.
Durga Puja isn’t just a religious event for the Bengalis. It’s a cultural event, an event looked forward to, an event that gives Bengal its identity. Think of a Durga Puja scenario: Conch Shell, Red and White Sari, Ululudavni, Grand Pandals and a flooding crowd. Doesn’t this remind you of Kolkata? Well, it’s not just Kolkata but every little town of Bengal is painted with the same scenario.
At the start of this devastating year, 2020, with the attack of the novel Coronavirus, there had been rumours that Bengal will not be celebrating its auspicious festival this year. But the CM of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, was quick to respond to the fake news and cleared any further confusion on the matter making it evident that Bengal is all set to welcome their Goddess, Maa Durga.
However, Durga Pooja seems to be more reluctant this year, as it has been delayed by 35 days. No, it’s not because of the pandemic or curfews. It is because of the shift of the date in the calendar. Wondering how?
The conch of Mahalaya marks the beginning of the 9 days stay of Maa Durga in her homelend. Statues are brought in and pandals are made for the puja. But this year, the most awaited puja is delayed by more than a month. Mahalaya or Mahalaya Amavasya puts an end to the two weeks Pitru Paksh Shraad, a fortnight when every family worships their ancestors and hence commences the Devi Paksha or Durga Puja. The devotees fast for 8-9 days and offer prayers to Maa Durga. The celebration begins on the Mahashahsti or the 7th day of the Durga Puja. Having said that, the 35 days delay in this year’s Durga Puja is because of the occurrence of “Mala Mash” or the “Unholy Month”, a month that will experience two New Moons, called “Amavasya”. This is the time when any kind of holy or auspicious celebrations are avoided. In past, the festival was delayed in the year 1982 and 2002.
On 17th of October, this Lunar Month, also known as the Bengali Month of Ashwin will end and the Devi Paksha will begin with “Pratipad” or the first day of Shradiya Navratra and hence commences the auspicious and the most awaited festival of West Bengal: Durga Puja or “Durgo Pujo“.