“………Akaashbaani Kolkata aaj Mahalaya……..Shuru hochche bisesh provatee odhibeshan… Mahishasura mardini……..” – For nearly six decades, the baritone voice of the radio announcer made almost all the Bengalis wake up at the pre dawn hour on the day of Mahalaya to join with late Shree Birendra Krishna Bhadra to the unique celebration of sending invitation to the mother goddess Devi Durga…… “Jaago tumi Jaago…..” Mahalaya is the day of inviting Devi Durga to save from all the demons of bad patches in this mortal world……as well as to get the blessing for the best in life in all aspects – “…… Rupan Dehi Jayon Dehi Jasho Dehi……” Mahalaya flags off the biggest festival of Bengal, DurgaPuja, the festival for homecoming. It is Amabashya ( No-Moon day) of the month of Ashwin of Bengali calendar. The fortnight prior to this day is called PitreePaksha. The word Pitree means father or ancestor and Paksha means fortnight. Religiously, This is the time period of every year when Bengalis pay homage to their passed away ancestors. And the process of paying homage is called Tarpan. Though Tarpan can be performed throughout this fortnight, most of the people choose to perform it especially on the day of Mahalaya . Tarpan is performed by standing in the waist deep water of the holy river Ganges and offering the holy water to the passed away ancestors while chanting the Veda Mantras. According to Saam Veda, only Brahmins can perform Tarpan. But Jajur Veda empowers other casts also to perform Tarpan with a few difference. Apart from the religious point of view, it is a nice ritual for recapitulating the loving memories of the passed away beloveds, at the starting of the festive fortnight. The fortnight starting from the Mahalaya is called Devi Paksha where Devi indicates to Devi Durga.
Ref : PUROHIT DARPON by Pandit Surendra Mohan Bhattacharya, 38 th Edition. Acknowledgement : Shree Ranjit Kr. Bose.