This was one loooooong day. Normally, Mahalaya has always been a loooong day since childhood . Mahalaya is like the official announcement of the fact that the biggest festival of the Bengalis – Durgapuja is here , for rest of the country Navrataras start . Since childhood, we have grown up waking up at 4 AM and keeping our ears glued to the Radio – the only source of entertainment and luxury in a middle class household and listening to Chandipath by the legendary Late Sri Birendra Krishna Bhadra . You would rarely find a a bengali born till 1980s who would not get mesmerized by listening to Mahalaya . So if the night before Mahalaya was all checking and re checking the battery power of your radio and properly setting the alarm , then the breakfast on Mahalaya was always Luchi( Puffed deep fried pan cakes) and Alurdom cooked by Ma and ofcourse…jalebis!!
School holiday, Festive mood all around and the excitement of playing with your friends in afternoon were highlights of this day in childhood and always had the adrenaline rushing since morning . This rush continued till the end of the festival season.

These days I feel lazy to search for the radio station and why should I take the pain of waking up early when the recordings are available and
there is a treasure box called youtube. Numerous TV channels fight for one moment of attention with the AV production of Mahalaya and roping in stars to do it. Somewhere radio has taken a backseat although it still remains the most authentic one .
Mahalaya also marks the ritual of offering prayers in the river Ganges or Ganga for your ancestors for the last 14 generations. So its a photographer’s paradise in terms of the surroundings and the subject.   I tried to go on a photowalk 2 years back and then again tried this year . We moved around 3 places and bumped into several photographers- from well known to starters , several cameras- from point and shoot to Extreme High end DSLRs . Its an annual carnival of photographers and if in Kolkata, then dont miss it .

The day started at 4 AM , tiptoeing out of my room so that Simba doesnt get up and when I crashed in the night it was almost midnight . Yes in spite of all this I couldnt forget that month end and half yearly end is on its way and I have a demanding client also …. Simba is now nearing 3 and next year onwards I will switch on the radio to listen with him together , just like the way my dad used to do ……

 Photographers tips –

1. Please be careful about your outfit. Capris and half pants are recommended for men as one may need to walk down few steps down the river to get a good frame

2. Carry as less gear as possible as chances and places to change the lens will be very less.

3. Please be careful about your gear and ensure no damage happens to them as one will be very near to the water . Your subjects wont have any consideration for your lens

4. As there will be many photographers around, so click as many pictures as possible , no one would mind or say anything.

5. One has to walk a lot so be ready for it.

6. Check in advance the time of prayers as well as the routes to reach the places

Mahalaya 2014 - the prayer

The prayer

Mahalaya 2014 - praying together

We pray together

Mahalaya 2014 Kolkata

The priest and the devotee

Mahalaya 2014 Kolkata 2

The prayer continues

Mahalaya 2014 Kolkata offerings


Mahalaya 2014 prayers 1

Offering peace to forefathers

Mahalaya 2014 child

While parents were busy