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Kali Pooja

On the night of Deepavali (Amaveseya, the darkest night), while the rest of India worships Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Eastern India, particularly West Bengal worships Kali, the Goddess symbolizing strength. Spectacular images of Kali, installed by the community, are worshipped and immersed in rivers or sea. Kartika is the opening month of the year of the Vikrama era. This month forms part of the saradd season which, according to Indian traditions, is prominently the season of Valour (Vikrama) and of Kali Pooja.

A 1768 publication Shyam Sarpya Biddhi by Kashinath mentions for the first time, the celebration of Kali Pooja. It is said that Maharaja Krishan Chandra of

Nawadweep gave an order that everyone, in his domain should worship Kali. Punishment was given to the defaulters. Thus more than 10,000 images of Kali began to be worshipped in his domain. Before the present Kali Pooja, Ratanti Kali Pooja was celebrated in ancient times.

It is believed that the present form of the image of Kali, is due to a dream seen by K’rsnanand, author of Tantric Saar, that he should make her image after the figure, he saw first in the morning. The image should then be worshipped. At dawn K’rsnanand saw a dark complexioned girl with left food protruding and making cow dung cakes with her right hand. Her body was shining with white dots. While wiping off the sweat from her forehead with left hand, the vermilion had been spread in her parted hair. The hair was disarranged. All of a sudden, seeing an elderly, she ejected her tongue with shame. Thus so formed the image of Kali.

Kali Pooja is only a one night festival (darkest night of the dark fortnight of the month Kartik). The image worshipped is that of Kali, the dark, terrible wife of Siva with awful gaping mouth and uncombed hair. She has four hands, wears a garland made out of the heads of the giants (slain be her), blood is dripping from her tongue (blood of slain giants), holds a sword in her lotus hands, who is fearless and awards blessings. She has black clothes like the large clouds. Her throat is besmeared with blood, wears earrings (of two dead bodies), has terrible teeth and in this terrible form, she is seen standing on the image with her foot on the breast of her husband Lord Shiva, who had waylaid her, in order to stop further blood shed by her.

Kali has been called, “The goddess of blood”, as the apotheosis of brute force. Her worship has been associated with various sacrifices at various shrines, which are drenched with the blood of goats, sheep and buffaloes, sacrificed in honour of the sanguinary goddess. There is a famous temple of the goddess at Kalighat, which is visited by lacs of pilgrims every October. This place gave its name to the great city of Calcutta and derives sanctity from the legend that when the corpse of Lord Shiva’s wife was cut in pieces by order of the gods, and chopped up by the disc of Lord Vishnu, one of her fingers fell on this spot. The temple is supposed to have been built about three centuries ago. A member of the Sabama Chaudhury family, who at one time owned considerable estates in this part of the country, cleared the jungle, built the temple, and allotted 194 acres of land for it. Chandibar was the name of the first priest appointed to manage the affairs of the temple. His descendants continue to hold the same post.

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