Thousands of devotees thronged temples to offer ‘shradha’ (homage) to their forefathers on the occasion of Mahalaya today. The pilgrim town of Puri is also agog with activities as people in large numbers gathered near the northern gate of Jagannath temple to offer ‘tila tarpan’ and ‘pind daan’ to their forefathers.
The auspicious occasion of Mahalaya marks the end of a 16 days long observation of Pitru Paksha, otherwise known as Shradh. People belonging to Hindu religion mark this occasion by remembering their ancestors, and offering puja, water, and food items for getting rid of their karmic debts.
Mahalaya also marks the beginning of Devi Paksha, and the beginning of Durga Puja which is celebrated with great pompous and gaiety among the people of Odisha. The Navaratri celebration starts on the September 26 with the puja of Shailaputri mata.
During the 16 days long period of Pitru Paksha, people follow a strict vegetarian diet, remembering forefathers and seek their blessing for a blissful mortal journey.
The positive aspect of the Mahalaya celebration is that it signifies the importance we give to our ancestors even after their death. It also enlightens us about the afterlife journey and the Hindu concept of the guardian angel. The Mahalaya marks the end of Krishna paksha, which is the dark-mooned last day of Ashwin month.
Mahalaya in popular culture also marks the arrival of Goddess Durga on Earth to free people from atrocities, and pain caused by the demon Mahishasura.
Maa Durga in her 10-day long battle, killed the shape-shifting demon by piercing the trident which possessed the power of all Hindu Gods, and Goddesses. The day final-day of battle is celebrated as Vijay Dashami, which marks the victory of good, over evil.
A huge number of people thronged Bindusagar pond near Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar to perform ‘Mahalaya Shradha’. Some people also performed ‘Pinda Daan’ rituals in their respective houses.
Goddess Samaleswari’s Dhabalamukhi Besha
Thousands of devotees thronged Samaleswari Temple in Sambalpur to witness the ‘Dhabalamukhi Besha’ of Goddess Samaleswari on the occasion of Mahalaya.
Goddess Samaleswari remains dressed in red costume round the year. However, during Mahalaya, the Goddess wears white costume. The ‘Dhabalamukhi Besha is also called as ‘Ganga Darshan’. It is believed that ‘Dhabalamukhi Besha’ darshan of the Goddess is as good as taking a holy dip in the Ganga.