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Recitation of Durga Mahatmya on Mahalaya marks the formal beginning of the Durga Puja festival

Mahisasura Mardini (Bengali: মহিষাসুরমর্দিনী,The Annihilation of the Demon) is a hugely popular early radio programme have been broadcasted since 1930 in All India Radio (AIR) program which is a beautiful two-hour audio montage of Chandipath (chanting from Chandi) recitation from the scriptural verses of Sri Sri Chandi or Durga Saptashati,[1] Bengali devotional songs, classical music and a dash of acoustic melodrama. The program has also been translated into Hindi set to similar orchestration and is broadcast at the same time for a pan-Indian audience.[2] This programme, which began in 1932, is aired every year at day-break on Mahalaya even till today. The programme, which started off as a live-performance has been broadcast in its pre-recorded format since the late nineteen-sixties. However, its great popularity remains undiminished even till today.[3][4][5]

This program has almost become synonymous with Mahalaya called Debipakhsha. For nearly six decades from 1930 now, the whole of Bengal rises up in the chilly pre dawn hours, 4 am at morning to be precise, of the Mahalaya day to tune in to the “Mahisasura Mardini” broadcast.

Birendra Krishna Bhadra

Birendra Krishna Bhadra who will always be remembered for making Mahalaya memorable to one and all is Birendra Krishna Bhadra, the magical voice behind the “Mahisasura Mardini.” The legendary narrator recites the holy verses and tells the story of the descent of Durga to earth, in his inimitable style.It was on the day of Mahalaya,the beginning of "devipaksha",the Gods and Goddesses woke up to prepare themselves for Durga Puja. Akashvani Mahalaya: In the year 1930, Mahalaya was first broadcasted over the radio in Akashvani. The programme was organised by Premankur Aatorthi, Birendra Krishna Bhadra, Nripendra Krishna Mukhopadhya and Raichand Boral. It was broadcasted live then. Later it was recorded and played.[6]

Bhadra died long ago, but his recorded voice still forms the core of the Mahalaya program. In a sonorous, reverberating voice Birendra Bhadra renders the Mahalaya recital for two thrilling hours, mesmerizing every household with the divine aura of his narration, as the Bengalis submerge their souls in quiet moments of prayer.

Musical Composition

Mahisasura Mardini is a remarkable piece of audio drama matchless in Indian culture. Though the theme is mythical and the mantras Vedic, this program is a landmark composition. It's scripted by Bani Kumar, and narrated by Bhadra while Dijen Mukhopadhya, Manobendra Mukhopadhya (Tabo Achinta....), Sandhya Mukhopadhya, Arati Mukhopadhya, Utpala Sen, Shyamal Mitra and Supriti Ghosh (Bajlo tomar alor benu) sang in their melodious voices.[7] . The enchanting music is composed by none other than the immortal Pankaj Mullick,[8] and the songs are rendered by famous singers of yesteryears, including Hemant Kumar and Arati Mukherjee. As the recital begins, the serene morning air resonates with the long drawn sound of the sacred conch shell, immediately followed by a chorus of invocation, melodiously setting the stage for the recitation of the Chandi Mantra.


Chandipath narrates that Durga is the primeval source of power, all qualities reside in her. She is one and yet known by many names. She is Narayani, Brahmani, Maheshwari, Shivaduti and She is the fierceful Chamunda, decked with a garland of skulls. The Goddess Chandika is eternal. She has no birth, no definite physical form. She assumes a manifestation of majestic might only to restore the process of Creation from the terrible Asuras or evil incarnates. Mahisasura, the terrible king of the Asuras had defeated the gods and driven them out of Heaven. The gods, dejected and humiliated went to Brahma, the god of creation Vishnu, the God of preservation and Mahadeva, the God of destruction, to report their defeat. These three Gods projected their energy and evoked a new form of energy. This energy then crystallised into the heavenly form of a Goddess. She was Mahamaya, the Mother of the Universe. The emergence of the goddess was an auspicious moment. The Goddess then emerged in full battle array to combat Mahisasura. The Himalayas gifted Her the lion to act as her carrier, Vishnu gave her the Chakra, Mahadeva gave her the trident, Yama gave her the danda, Brahma gave her the rosary and the container of sacred water. Armed with weapons of all kinds, the Mother Goddess defeated the Asuras, thus ending the rule of evil forces. The occasion of Mahalaya, thus, always goes on reminding mankind of the divine scheme of things that the Evil may have had its say, but it is ultimately the Good that has the last laugh.[9]

The Story of Mahisasura Mardini

The story element is captivating. It speaks of the increasing cruelty of the demon king Mahisasura against the gods. Unable to tolerate his tyranny the gods plead with Vishnu to annihilate the demon. The Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara (Shiva) come together to create a powerful female form with ten arms - Goddess Durga or 'Mahamaya', the Mother of the Universe who embodies the primeval source of all power.

The gods then bestow upon this Supreme creation their individual blessings and weapons. Armed like a warrior, the goddess rides a lion to battle with the Mahisasura. After a fierce combat the 'Durgatinashini' is able to slay the 'Asura' king with her trident. Heaven and earth rejoice at her victory. Finally, the mantra narration ends with the refrain of mankind's supplication before this Supreme Power:

"Ya devi sarbabhuteshshu, sakti rupena sanksthita Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namasteshwai namo namaha." [10]

Mahishasura Mardini Stotram or Mahishasur Maridhini Sloka is a very popular devotional stotra of Goddess Durga written by Guru Adi Sankaracharya (Sri Sri Sri Shankara Bhagavatpadacharya). This devotional verse is addressed to Goddess Mahisasura Mardini, the Goddess who killed Demon Mahishasura. Mahisasura Mardini is the fierce form of Goddess Durga Maa (an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi), where Durga Maa is depicted with 10 arms who rides in a lion or tiger and carrying weapons and assumes symbolic hand gestures or mudras.[11]


  1. "durga_puja : Mahalaya". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  2. "Mahalaya: Invoking the Mother Goddess". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  3. "Biography of Pankaj Kumar Mullick - the versatile musical genius". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  4. Mahalaya ushers in the Puja spirit The Times of India, TNN 19 September 2009.
  5. Morning Raga Indian Express, PiyasreeDasgupta, Sep 18, 2009.
  6. "Mahalaya : Durga Puja mahalaya : Durga Puja". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  7. "Mahalaya : Durga Puja mahalaya : Durga Puja". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  8. "Biography of Pankaj Kumar Mullick - the versatile musical genius". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  9. "durga_puja :Mahalaya". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  10. "Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  11. "Hindu Devotional Blog: Mahishasura Mardini Stotram Lyrics - Prayer to the Goddess Durga". Retrieved 2009-06-13. 


  • Pragya Paramita. "Heralding The Goddess",, Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd, 15 September 2006. Retrieved on 6 May 2007.
  • Indranil Chakraborty. "Saregama gets going on Bhadra royalty,, Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd, September 26, 2006. Retrieved on 6 May 2007.
  • "Mahalaya in Bengal", Mahalaya - Its Relation with the Durga Puja, Retrieved on 6 May 2007.
  • "Mahalaya", Retrieved on 6 May 2007.

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