If you happen to wake up at the pre dawn hour of 4 am at Kolkata or elsewhere in Bengal, people would either take you for a passionate bird watcher, a rare super early morning jogger or an insomniac for sure. But come ‘Mahalaya’, the first day of the ‘Devipaksha’ and everything changes. Till today the vast majority of Bengalis tune in to “Mahisasura Mardini”, the radio programme that has been broadcast since 1931 on All India Radio but has never diminished in popularity. This programme initially started as a live performance has truly granted the boon of immortality to Birendra Krishna Bhadra, the magical voice narrating the holy verses.
Scripted by Bani Kumar and music composed by the great Pankaj Mullick, “Mahisasura Mardini” saw a number of the best Bengali singers of the time lending their voices to the devotional songs puntuating the ‘Chandipath’ by Bhadra.
The programme became an instant hit and has remained so through the passage of time. Such is its popularity that in 1976 when a different version of the programme was composed with ‘Mahanayak’ Uttam Kumar as the narrator, it was unanimously rejected by the populace and the original version was brought back.
As the one and a half hour long audio montage draws to a close, it marks a new beginning- an ever new ‘Durga Puja’ in the making.
“Ya devi sarbabhuteshshu, sakti rupena sanksthita Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namasteshwai namo namaha.”
Photo Credit: Wikipedia, HMV