A baby is born.
It’s a girl- the source of regeneration of the world, of all the species on the earth. A mother is born. The reservoir of all the powers. The origin of all the knowledge. The origin of the earth. The Creator is born. In her womb is born the legacy. She is born. She has risen. The source of all the powers. Mother to the great, the enlightened, the fearless, the wrathful. Sublime and divine.
Our daughter is born.
As the night slowly sheds off her blanket of darkness, the morning today will sing to the joyous tune of the commencement of the feminine hour, when the patriarchal calendar comes to an end & the worship of the feminine hour or the 'Devipaksha' begins signalling the arrival of the auspicious day of the 'Mahalaya'.
'Mahalaya' refers to the arrival of Goddess Durga on the land of the mortals- the time of the year when Kolkata braces itself to welcome its daughter, their Uma, descending from her abode in heaven, along with her sons & daughters, arriving at her father's place, where she resides for 5 days.
This auspicious day signals the commencement of 'Devipaksha' or the hour of the feminine power. An invocation to her, calling out to her and seeking her to rise to the occasion. Uma, the otherwise shy and sublime feminine individual, transforms to the wrathful 'Durga' and (with her 10 hands and 10 different weapons) slays the demon 'Mahisasura', thus taking the title of 'Mahisasurmardini' (the slayer of Mahisasura). Nature sings her praise as the world bows down at her feet. Her creations sing her glory, as she rises with full vigour.
Durga pujas form an inseparable part of Kolkata. Not only the Bengalis, but the Kolkatans as well, bear this passion towards Durga puja since their birth. Speaking of the definition of Durga Puja, Vir Sanghvi has put it correctly that even if one combines the madness of the Brazilian carnivals, the crowds of Christmas in London, the mirth of New Year celebrations in New York or the insanity of the Valentine's Day in Paris, and then doubles it, it still won't be equal to the crowd, madness, intoxication and the spirit of the Durga Pujas in Kolkata. Such is its grandeur. Such is its passion.
Durga Puja commences with the 'Mahalaya' celebrations in Bengal. The day of the 'Mahalaya' holds a special position in the hearts of the Bengalis. The rise of the new sun, the orange sky and the soothing autumnal breeze is accompanied by Birendra Krishna Bhadra's 'Mahisasurmardini' on the radio has become a part of Kolkata's culture & tradition.
Mahalaya sings the glory of the Mother Goddess and of the power that resides in a woman. That after all, a woman is the creator and creation forms the most powerful act. Her womb acts as the place where creations are kept safe & resources are replenished.
Our Mothers and our daughters bear the third eye. Invisible - kept concealed under the drop of vermillion. They are born with the spirit of the demon slayer. By chanting the invocation to Durga on the day of the Mahalaya, we seek her to rise. To call her to wipe off the darkness and the evil from the face of the earth. And she rises, she kills, and she wards off the darkness.
Women today are the reincarnation of the wrathful & sublime soul of the Goddess. They work, taking care of the household and of their kids and at the same time of their professional lives. Why, the women today travel to space, fight wars and rule nations. And when time comes, they stand up against the evils of the society and the demons of the world.
She is there in Malala. She was there in Angelou and in Mother Teresa.
She was in our Nirbhaya, who fought against the pain, the sleepless nights, the nightmares of those faces that ripped her soul apart. She was there in Nirbhaya, when she fought for her life, for she wanted to live and never give up. She was in power and she was in glory. The invocation of Mahalaya is to Nirbhaya's strength, to her intensity and to all the women around the world who are striving for their existence and are fighting against oppression every moment.
The chants of Mahalaya sing its praise as a collective voice for each individual woman on Earth. A call for them to rise to the occasion, to equip their ten arms and to reveal their third eye. To unleash their wrath, to reveal the origin- the source of all the powers present on the face of the Earth- and to slay repression.
The clock ticks. The hour nears. The Sun is about to rise.
The stage is set. The wheels of her chariot are moving gradually. The slopes of the crystal Himalayas are gradually turning crimson. The sound of the conch shells is audible.
Nature is awake.
The door has been opened. Her third eye. The gaze. Her lion has been released. She has risen. She has arrived.