Kolkata: Many Bengalis woke up before the crack of dawn Tuesday for their annual tryst with Mahalaya, an auspicious occasion invoking mother Goddess Durga to descend on earth through mantras and hymns.
Mahalaya heralds the countdown to Durga Puja, the biggest festival in West Bengal that will see celebrations for five days from Sunday.
On Tuesday, thousands listened to the legendary Birendra Krisnha Bhadra`s "Chandi Path" and recitation from the scriptural verses of "Chandi Kavya" in the ageold All India Radio production called "Mahisasura Mardini".
The production is played not only on radio but also on TV these days.
Since the early 1930s, Mahalaya has almost become synonymous with the programme, which is an audio montage of the recitation by Bhadra as well as Bengali devotional songs and classical music. Its popularity remains undiminished even today.
Like in previous years, this time also many TV channels telecast programmes on Mahalaya. One Bengali channel showed "Durga Durgotinashini" in which film actress Koyel Mallick performed as Goddess Durga.
Many people thronged the banks of the Ganga river to offer prayers to the souls of their dead relatives and forefathers early morning and take holy dips in the river. The occasion marks the beginning of `Devipaksha` and the end of `Pitripaksha`.
On the auspicious occasion, more than 400 artisans in Kumartuli, traditionally the potters` town in the city, started giving final touches to idols of Goddess Durga.
Hectic business was expected in all major market hubs in the city. From Shyambazar in north to Gariahat in south Kolkata, the most sought-after locations for shopping, will experience huge footfalls later in the day.
The mild weather will also favour the puja shopping spree.