Mahalaya, also known as Sarva Pitra Amavasya, is celebrated on October 14 this year and marks the end of Pitru Paksha. This is a religiously significant day for all Hindu devotees. Many people remember their ancestors and make Tarpan or Shraddha offerings to make their souls happy in the afterlife. It also serves as a reminder to the faithful of how much has changed and how, no matter where you live or how far away you are from home, the notes of Mahalaya will always ring in your ears. Come celebrate this day of hope and happiness with us!
History of Mahalaya
According to the Hindu calendar, devotees of Maa Durga celebrate Mahalaya a week before Durga Puja. Mahalaya is observed on the last day of Pitru Paksha. According to Hindu mythology, Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheswar created Goddess Durga on this day to defeat the demon king Mahishasura. As a result, devotees have marked this day as the arrival of Goddess Durga from Kailash Parvat with her divine powers.
Hindu devotees believe that the demon king Mahishasura was given the blessing that no God or human could ever kill him. After receiving the blessing, Mahishasura attacked the Devtas, and they were forced to flee Devlok after losing the war. All the Devtas prayed to Adi Shakti, along with Lord Vishnu, to save them from Mahishasura’s wrath. It is believed that a divine light emerged from the bodies of all the Devtas and took the form of the Goddess Durga. Maa Durga fought Mahishasura for nine days before killing him on the tenth day. Maa Durga is revered as the goddess of power, and Durga Puja is widely celebrated across the country. Devotees pray to the goddess, who is said to visit Earth to bless her people, for ten days straight.
An auspicious pooja is performed to honor the venerable. Devotees rise early in the morning to worship the goddess by singing ‘Chandipath’ and listening to religious mantras like ‘Mahishasura Mardini.’ Sculptors create and color the eyes of the Goddess Durga. Many people observe this day to remember their ancestors. On Mahalaya Amavasya morning, devotees bid farewell to their ancestors, and in the evening, they perform Durga Pooja for the goddess who steps on Earth to bless the devotees. This festival is celebrated with great zeal and devotion in West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka, and Tripura.
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What food can you make for Mahalaya?
Food offerings for the ancestors are usually prepared in silver or copper vessels and served on a banana leaf or in cups made of dried leaves. Typical dishes are kheer, lapsi, rice, dal, spring bean (guar) vegetables, and a yellow gourd.
What should be done on Mahalaya Amavasya?
On Mahalaya Amavasya, ancestors, or ‘pitrs,’ are worshiped with dhoop, diya, and flowers. Devotees also offer a mixture of water and barley to the forefathers to appease them, wear a sacred thread on the right shoulder, and a splint is given away as a donation.
Is Mahalaya Amavasya good?
According to Garuda Purana and Agni Purana, this day is not only to pay respects to our ancestors, but it also prevents the whole family from facing any unnatural or unexpected deaths. Mahalaya guarantees they will live a good and healthy life till their last breath.
How to Observe Mahalaya
Take part in the Mahalaya festivities
Mahalaya is a massive annual celebration in which many people gather to commemorate the goddess Durga. This means that there are many ways for you to get involved. You can help prepare some of the various foods that will be served, adorn houses and public spaces with floral decorations, or ensure that everyone’s ritual garb is clean and ready for the big celebration.
Create a goddess sculpture
Every year, sculptors pay homage to Durga on Mahalaya by creating beautiful eye sculptures to sell and celebrate the special occasion. On this day, you can create your own versions of Durga’s eyes using clay or another material of your choice. Once you’re done, decorate your home in time for the festivities.
Listen to 'Mahishasura Mardini'
Listening to traditional songs and stories to commemorate the tale of Maa Durga and Mahishasura is a great way to have an authentic Mahalaya celebration. Many resources are available online, as well as visual content you can share with the kids so they can understand and take part in the festivities.
5 Essential Hinduism Facts
The soul can endure physical challenges
Hindus believe that the soul can endure various physical challenges in the body and that our previous lives have contributed to the people we are today.
There are three major Trimurti Gods
Lord Brahma (creator), Lord Vishnu (preserver), and Lord Shiva (destroyer) are the three major Trimurti Gods of Hinduism.
Rebirth is fundamental to the faithful
Hindu devotees believe souls reincarnate in a cycle of rebirth.
It’s a lifestyle
In Hinduism, creation concepts include yoga, Ayurveda, Astrology, Vastu, Jyotish, Yajna, Puja, Tantra, Vedanta, and Karma.
Hindus are ever truthful and happy
According to Hinduism, all living things have a soul or ‘Atman,’ which is defined as ‘constant truth, consciousness, and happiness.’
Why Mahalaya is Important
It conserves religion and tradition
Many countries around the world value history and religion as something to be remembered and celebrated, as well as something that influenced the creation of their society. Therefore, Hindus and Indians find joy in the celebration of Mahalaya every year.
New devotees rise
Every year, these Mahalaya celebrations usher in new devotees. These people take part and observe the festivities, become enlightened, and choose to follow the religious path. We love how a national celebration can inspire devotion and purpose.
It celebrates the spirit of community
Through festivities that involve entire cities and regions, a very blessed spirit of togetherness and community is celebrated. People value community, especially in honoring and preserving religion and tradition in a world where society is easily changed or tarnished.