It starts with “Ya devi sarbabhuteshshu, shakti rupena sanksthita Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namasteshwai namo namaha.”
The loose translation would be “O Goddess who permeates all things and is manifested today as Strength, I bow to thee, I bow to thee, I bow to thee over and over”
Mahalaya is the first (official) day of the Bengali festive season. I am not going into the religious details because I never thought of Mahalaya as a religious occasion. As I was never too religious, Durga puja (celebration of goddess Durga) was not even a religious festival to me; it was more like a social celebration. Today am far away from home in a foreign land and all alone celebrating mahalaya. I remember my childhood days when I woke up with the magic voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra, the legend who will always be alive through his voice. An elderly uncle in our para (neighborhood) used to play the song on huge loud speakers. He didn’t care if somebody didn’t want to wake up at the wee hour and listen to it. The good thing was, no one had any problem, and we kind of looked forward to it. Maa used to turn on the radio first and then wait for the TV to start broadcasting the Mahishashur Mardini program. We were still in bed and watched it half asleep, half awake. The day felt so different than any other day. There was festivity in the air and the white clouds on the blue sky and the white feathery kashphool (Kans grass) all together made the day very special. When we moved to our new house, there was an empty land right behind us which every year used to get invaded with kashphool: it was picture perfect.
To celebrate mahalaya alone for the first time in my life, I made some payesh (rice pudding, sort of, but much more subtle) and thought of sharing the sweetness with all of you. Hope most of you are with your loved ones and waiting for the festivities to start and bring joy and happiness to your life.
You can hear the whole chandipaath (recital of the mythical story) here.
I’ll post the Payesh recipe soon.