Durga Puja 2020: Mahalaya is over but the buzz around the Durga Puja festivities is still missing in Kolkata. The 35-day gap between Mahalaya and Shashthi, and the COVID-19 pandemic are the two main reasons for this. All festivals in India - from Ganesh Chaturthi to Onam - had to be scaled down due to the raging pandemic. On Mahalaya, few people were seen at malls and other markets in the Bengal capital, shopping for Durga Puja. The celebration without new clothes is unimaginable in West Bengal. Traditionally new clothes are a must on Shashthi and Ashtami when anjali or special offerings are made to the Goddess Durga.
Durga Puja 2020: The 35-day gap between Mahalaya and Shashthi explained
The 35-day gap between Mahalaya and Shashthi is attributed to a phenomenon called the mala mash or an 'unholy month' when auspicious rituals are avoided, according to scriptures. A mala mash is a month, which has two new moons or Amavasyas.
The two schools of almanacs popularly followed by Hindus, known as the Bisuddha Siddhanta (lunar calendar) and Surya Siddhanta (solar calendar) are in agreement over this year's Durga Puja schedule. Durga Puja normally happens in the month of Ashwin but now it will take place in the next month, that is, Kartik. Ashwin is a mala mash due to two new moons. The first day of Ashwin corresponds to September 17, which is a new moon and the second one will be on the October 16, the 29th day of Ashwin, in the Hindu calendar.
Durga Puja 2020: Days and dates
Panchami: October 21
Shashthi: October 22
Saptami: October 23
Ashtami: October 24
Navami: October 25
Vijaya Dashami: October 26 - the last day of Navratri culminating in Dussehra.
Kolkata's Kumartuli, the hub where idols of Goddess Durga are made, has a deserted look this year. Idol makers say, the orders are few and most puja organisers are asking for smaller idols. Business is badly hampered as costs of raw materials have shot up, say the artists.