Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: A large number of people on Sunday converged on the banks of the Hooghly River to take a holy dip and offer prayers to their ancestors on the last day of Pitru Paksha, also known as Sarvapitari Amavasya.
Pitru Paksha, which is called Mahalaya in West Bengal, is the 16-day lunar day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitras), marking the beginning of ‘Devi Paksha’, the day marked by the arrival of Goddess Durga, according to the Hindu calendar.
It is believed that on this day the spirits of ancestors happily go back to their respective worlds after blessing their relatives.
Mahalaya is all about the beginning of Durga Puja fun. Generally, people believe that on this day, Goddess Durga officially begins her journey from Mount Kailash — where she resides with her husband Lord Shiva — to her maternal home on Earth. As per the Hindu calendar, the celebrations of Mahalaya begin a week before the Durga Pooja celebrations.
On Mahalaya, every Bengali household wakes up early in the morning — even before the sun. The occasion is associated with different practices and rituals. Many people perform ‘tarpan’ on this day to offer prayers to the departed souls of their ancestors and give ‘bhog’ to the Brahmins, along with food and materials to the needy.
Some Hindu households offer the ritual of pitru tarpan during this day wherein they offer prayers and offerings (pind-daan) on the banks of the river Ganga for the departed ancestors.
Devotees believe that ‘Pind Daan’ helps in attaining salvation to their ancestors and the way to heaven is paved for them.
Pandits and people perform pooja at Prinsep Ghat.
A large number of people also visited the banks of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers in Prayagraj to pay their homage. Similarly, people were also seen performing ‘pind dan’ on the banks of Falgu river in Gaya, Bihar and on the Ganga ghat in Varanasi. (ANI)