Design a site like this with
Get started

4:00 AM Mahalaya


My September calender in 2019 was quite packed on the work front. A series of academic events, seminars and conferences were lined up. Apart from this, there were some of my cancer patients, who needed extra care and attention.

I had just returned from Mumbai a week ago, after attending the Women’s Cancer Conclave and Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer . At some point of time during this period I was approached by an organization called Cancer Sahay to be a part of their National Panel. The  event was supposed to be held in Kolkata on 27th September 2019 and was a one day programme. I accepted the invite without giving much thought. Since it would be just for a day, I thought I would be able to squeeze it in. Only later did I realize that our Institute was organizing a workshop on Molecular Oncology the very next day where we had invited our Keynote Speaker from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. Since I was coordinating this event, it meant that I would have to catch the very first Kolkata- Guwahati flight the next morning which was to depart at 5:50 AM in order to reach Guwahati in time for our very own event. Well……, so be it, I decided. It meant that I would have to leave my hotel in Kolkata at 4:00AM in order to catch the early morning flight.

The Kolkata conference eventually went off really well and I had the opportunity of sharing the platform with some imminent oncologists from across the globe. The venue of the conference was adorned with a splendid sculpture of Goddess Durga, marking the beginning of the festive season.  I thanked the host after dinner and mentioned that I would need to proceed to the airport very early next morning as I had an early departure. “You are indeed very lucky Maam, tomorrow is Mahalaya and the whole of Kolkata will be vibrating with the chants of Mahalaya from 4:00 AM” onwards.

With Medical Oncologist, Dr. Henry Conter from Canada

Was it just a mere coincidence? My journey from the Hotel to the Airport at 4:00 AM on 28th September 2019, was probably one of the most enchanting and mesmerizing drives to be remembered. It was still dark when I left the hotel. While the radio of my cab tuned in to some of the most powerful chants by Birendra Krishna Bhadra, the entire City of Joy was vibrating in a totally synchronized pulse, as dawn was breaking in. The chants of Mahalaya never felt more strong and powerful. The vibrations were literally palpable. I was momentarily teleported to my childhood. I remember how my parents would tune in to the radio, before the crack of dawn, on Mahalaya day without fail. My father would be reciting the Chandipath Mantras, in sync,  with the programme on AIR, which was popularly known as Mahisasura Mardini, without referring to any books or scripts. I literally grew up with these sounds. After years, life made a full circle, as I got the opportunity to soak into these vibrations right in the heart of the city of Kolkata, where it all originates. I remember my father telling me the significance of Mahalaya. “It’s the time of the year when the Goddess Parvati descends to Earth, in the form of Durga,  from her abode in Kailash with her two sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya, to deliver peace on earth”, he would say. My Dad had lived a significant part of his service life in Kolkata, before I was born. The influence of Bengali culture on our lives, and the beautiful blending of Assamese and Bengali traditions in our family was quite noticeable, as we grew up.

The Goddess in all her glory

Sometimes, we take the little events in our lives for granted. But if we look deeper, we often can read the message. I once again silently thanked the Universe for planning this for me.

Today in 2020, as Mahalaya dawns in yet again, much has changed in the world order. I am grateful to experience this day yet again, as I have been literally jumping into the battlefield, with the dual challenges of Covid and Cancer at my work front every single day, ever since the pandemic started.

May the Goddess once again destroy the evil forces and restore equilibrium and peace on Earth.

Published by neelakshimahanta

I believe in celebrating life as it comes and living in the moment. Times are neither good nor bad. It is what we make out of it. If we are blissful, we will make the best out of it.

5 thoughts on “4:00 AM Mahalaya

  1. Nothing is this world is random. Your Kolkata Mahalaya experience proves it. We need the insight to be able to acknowledge and appreciate it, the way you do! Loved the article!👌👏

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: