Mahalaya marks the beginning of Durga Puja which is held every year. As we all know, the countdown for Durga Puja festival starts from the day of Shri Krishna ‘Janmashtami’ but the preparations of Durga Puja reaches its final stage from the day of Mahalaya. Mahalaya also marks the end of ‘Pitri-Paksha’ and start of the ‘Devi-Paksha’. Devi Durga is worshipped for four days, but the beginning of the puja starts from the day of Mahalaya.
In the predawn hours of the day, the enchanting voice of Sri Birendra Krishna Bhadra for ‘Mahishashur Mordini’ on all India radio fills up the beginning of ‘Devi-Paksha’ and auspicious occasion to the countdown of Durga Puja.
The famous slokas of Mahalaya is
Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu Matri rupena samsthita
Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu Shakti rupena samsthita
Ya Devi sarva bhutesu Shanti rupena samsthita
Namestasyai Namestasyai Namestasyai Namoh Namah
The goddess who is omnipresent as the personification of universal mother
The goddess who is omnipresent as the embodiment of power
The goddess who is omnipresent as the symbol of peace
I bow to her, I bow to her, I bow to her
Mahalaya is also a kind of invocation or invitation to the mother goddess to descend on earth through the chanting of mantras and singing devotional songs - "Jago Tumi Jago".
Mahalaya Torpon - Devotees mark the end of ‘Pitri Paksha’ and start of the ‘Devi Paksha’ in the holy Ganges in Kolkata.
On this day, people go to the holy Ganges which becomes a sea of humanity to perform ‘Tarpon’ or ‘Torpon’ and pay respect to their departed fathers and ancestors for the departed souls in various types such as ‘Pitri Tarpon’, ‘Matri Tarpon’, and ‘Deb Tarpon’ in empty stomach. Devotees and worshipers buy new clothes and sweets to offer to their ancestors.