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News |  08 Oct 2018 15:14 |  By RnMTeam

The tradition of Mahalaya and legendary Birendra Krishna Bhadra

MUMBAI: India, a country of festivals, is all set for the nine-day extravaganza of Navratri. While Gujaratis worshipping Ma Amba, Bengalis worship Ma Durga, but both the states celebrate this festival fervently and have their own legends to follow. While the Gujaratis start their celebration from day one, Bengalis start their festivities I full bloom from the Sixth day or known as Shashti. However, a day before day one of Navratri and a day after Pitrupaksha, Bengalis observe Mahalaya, and to mark the beginning of which, a 90-minute musical piece of Mahishasura Mardini is played in every Bengali Household sung by Birendra Krishna Bhadra.

A piece composed in 1930’s by one of the foremost Bengali music composers, Pankaj Kumar Mallik was recorded 30 years later in 1966. However, for eight long decades, this rendition is a must in every Bengali household. Prior to the recorded version, this was sung live by many famous Bengali singers including the composer Pankaj Mallik himself. Birendra Krishna Bhadra, a voice that stayed irreplaceable when it came to Mahishasura Mardini rendition, was a multi-talented artiste. All India Radio introduced many other voices to sing this musical piece including one of legend in Bengal Uttam Kumar, however, the sonorous voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra, has stayed favourite for over four decades and has now become synonymous with Mahalaya. The narrative is by Bani Kumar is a blend of a narration, hymns describing the creation of goddess Durga to kill the demon king Mahishasura.

This is played at early in the morning at the break of the dawn around 4 am in every Bengali home. It is still played religiously on AIR and with changing times it’s available on YouTube and now there is an app called ‘Mahalaya’ app called for Android and IOS users for Bengalis not living in West Bengal and also a Hindi version for Pan India audience.

A matter of ritual for Bengalis and a must hear, if already not heard, this rendition brings the feeling of purity, festivity and victory too.