Mahalaya is a combined word. It is formed by the combination of two words i.e Maha and Alaya. Maha means Virat(Grand), Alaya means griha (Abode). This Mahalaya is the body itself where the soul resides. This body is exposed to outside stimulation. The soul becomes impure which has a corresponding desecrating impact on all the actions. Man has a propensity to stoop to unrighteous enterprise in life which often turns him to beast and ‘soils’ his soul. Man’s corporeal frame or physical body is a veritable durga or fort. The saviour of this durga is Durga. Durga Puja starts from Mahalaya and continues till the ‘Vijaya Dasami’. On the Mahalaya day we offer ablutions or tarpan to our Pitru purusa (forefathers). The tarpan commences ritualistically with the mantra, Pitarah Trupyatu.
This body can not be fit for worship of Goddess Durga unless it is liberated from “Pasusamskar” and “Jiva Samskar”. The evil qualities are always distracting man from his divine path. This is only one road that leads to God. The real significance of Mahalaya can be understood through “Kriya Yoga Sadhana” (re-integration through action).