The preparations for the most awaiting festival, Durga Puja begins on the day of Mahalaya. This day escorts to the aura of Durga Puja. Mahalaya marks the end of “Pitr- Paksha” and the beginning of “Devi paksha”. People believe that Lord Shree Rama performed Durga Puja on this day, just before his journey to Lanka for rescue of Sita.
Mahalaya is a sacred occasion observed a week before the Durga Puja. This day is of utmost importance for the Bengalis. It is celebrated in order to invite Goddess Durga, the supreme power to descend on earth by chanting mantras and singing Devi Maa bhajans till midnight.
This day is also considered the day of remembrance of departed souls of the family. The ritual of offering “tarpan” in memory of forefathers is commonly practiced on this day. Tarpan is offered on the banks of River Ganga by priests for different group of devotees. The rituals start from early dawn and end during the midday. It is believed that “tarpan” should be offered empty stomach and one should have food at the same place after completing the ritual.