Mahalaya in Bengal: Invoking the Mother Goddess
Mahalaya ushers in the aura of Durga Puja. The countdown for the Durga Puja begins much earlier, from the day of 'Ulto Rath'. It is only from the day of Mahalaya that the preparation for the Durga Puja reaches the final stage. Mahalaya is an auspicious occasion observed seven days before the Durga Puja, and heralds the advent of Durga, the goddess of supreme power.
Below are few other Hindu Gods and Goddesses:
Highest creator of all that has been created. Variously described as the mother, wife and/or daughter of
ma of the gods and all heavenly bodies.
A personification of Parvati in Hindu mythology. An amazingly beautiful woman who lured devils to their deaths. She announced that she would not summit to anyone who had not defeated her in battle and when they approached to fight her she killed their retinue with a supersonic hum, then transformed herself into the fearsome Kali and slew them.
the post-Vedic form of Prajapati; the originator and creator
Devi: A twelve-armed warrior goddess,created by Brahma, Vishnu and Siva to slay Mahishasura, the buffalo-demon, who menaced the universe.
One of the forms of the goddess Shakti, She was born fully grown. Durga is famous as the man-armed many-weaponed goddess who slays the buffalo-demon Mahish.
The god of wisdom and prosperity. He is depicted with a chubby human body, four arms and an elephant's head. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
God of desire and love. Son of Vishnu and Lakshmi and husband of Rati
He is believed and worshipped as an incarnation of Vishnu by his devotees.
A companion of Vishnu and mother of Kama. She is the goddess of beauty, wealth and enjoyment.
Mahashashthi: On this day Goddess Durga arrives to the mortal world from her heavenly abode, accompanied by her children. She is welcomed with much fanfare amidst the beats of dhak. Unveiling the face of the idol is the main ritual on this day. Kalaparambho, the ritual performed before the commencement of the puja precedes Bodhon, Amontron and Adibas.
Saptami is the first day of Durga puja. Kola Bow or Nabapatrika is given a pre-dawn bath. This is an ancient ritual of worshiping nine types of plants. They are together worshiped as a symbol of the goddess. The main Saptami Puja follows Kalparambho and Mahasnan.
The day began with a recital of Sanskrit hymns in community puja pandals as thousands of devotees offered anjali to the goddess. Kumari Puja or the worship of little girls as the mother goddess was a special part of the rituals observed in a number of traditional and household pujas. As the day wore on, it was time for the important Sandhi Puja, which marks the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami.
This is the concluding day of Durga Puja. The main Navami puja begins after the end of Sandhi Puja. The Navami Bhog is offered to the goddess. This is later partaken as prasad by the devotees.
After the three days of Puja, in Dashami, in the last day, a tearful farewell is offered to the Goddess. Most of the community pujas postpone the farewell as long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. The images are carried in processions around the locality and finally are immersed in a nearby river or lake. Vijaya Dashami is an event celebrated all over the country.