Kali Puja 2020 | History Of Kali Puja In Bengal

About three weeks after Durga Puja, when the people across India celebrate Diwali, Bengalis celebrate Kali Puja. Both the festivals coincide on the new moon day (Dipannita Amavasya) of the Hindu month Kartik. Goddess Kali, a manifestation of Maa Durga, is universal power. She is considered both creator and destroyer. If people pray to her earnestly, the Divine Mother Kali fulfills all the desires of her children.

Pic Courtesy- Instagram/kadambanvashini_by_shreayansh

Kali Puja 2020

For Kali Puja, devotees honor the clay sculptures of Goddess Kali in the Pandals(temporary shrines). Some elite Bengalis also worship the Goddess at home. They observe strict fasting without drinking water. Red Hibiscus is an important flower for Kali Puja. It is believed that the Goddess likes red color. 

Kali Puja Pandal
Kali Puja Pandal Theme

She is worshipped by chanting Tantric rites and mantras the whole night. As part of bhog, she is offered sweets, rice and lentils, fish, and meat. Shyama Sangeet, the devotional songs attributed to Mother Kali, is sung or played during Kali Pujo.

History Of Kali Puja

The noted tantric scholar of Nabadwip, Krishnananda Agamvagish, started the Dakshina Kali Puja in West Bengal. He was also the guru of Kali devotee Bengali saint Ramprasad Sen.

Ramprasad was a great Kali worshipper. He was the first to worshipped Kali as Mother. He saw in Kali not only the ferocious wild aspect of the divine but also the loving Mother who soothes and protects her children. On Kali Puja, he liked to stay up all night and worship Kali. 

To take care of family responsibilities, Ramprasad took the job of an account clerk. But he always used to think of the Divine Mother Kali. 

Legend has it that at such times he would feel so overwhelmed by her thoughts that he could not help but write down the devotional songs onto blank pages in the back of the account book. 

Today, Goddess Kali is worshipped through these melodious songs of Ramprasad Sen.

The Maharaja Krishna Chandra of Nadia, while traveling in his boat on the river Ganga, had heard the enchanting songs of Ramprasad. The Maharaja was delighted and appointed him to be his court poet.

It was King Krishna Chandra who popularised Kali Puja In Bengal. It became a major festival in the 19th century with Bengali elites, and wealthy landowners began patronizing the festival on a grand scale. During this time, the worship of Kali was well established in Bengal.

Kali Puja Story

Kali makes her official debut in the text, Devi Mahatmya, written about fifteen hundred years ago. Her first appearance portrays a ferocious violent Goddess from the get-go.

Kali Puja 2020
Kali Puja

After the gods lost a battle with the demons, Goddess Kali, an avatar, was created from the forehead of Durga to do her bidding.

The Goddess defeated the demons on the battlefield. But, the blood-intoxicated Mother in the form of Kali did not stop the destruction. She started smashing and slashing the corpses all over again. The Gods became filled with fear to see this form of the Goddess. 

Adhyatama Ramayana describes that then Siva lay down motionless among the corpses to stop her rampage. When She realized that she was touching her husband with her feet, Kali stretched out her tongue in shame, and the destruction came to an end.

As per the Shakta faith, Maa Kali, the celestial Mother, incarnates ten times as Dasa Mahavidyas for slaying evils. Each of the 10 Mahavidyas has the day of incarnation in a year as per the calendar. Of which the last, Kamalatmika, incarnation day corresponds to the day of Kali Puja.

Kolkata, the city of Goddess Kali

Some say that Kolkata(Kalikata), the city of joy, derives its name from Kalikshetra means Ground of (the Goddess) Kali. The city has many temples dedicated to the Goddess Kali. The oldest, Kalighat and the largest being the Dakshineswar temple is most popular among pilgrims.

The Dakshineswar Temple has a fascinating history. Its second head priest was the Bengali Saint named Ramakrishna. He and his wife Maa Sharada is also worshipped with Goddess Kali by devotees today.

Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Sharada Ma, Bama Khepa, Kamalakanta were some of her loyal worshippers, devoting their life to the Goddess. Today, because of the work of the Bengali saints, Kali is famous in Bengal.

Forms Of Goddess Kali

There many forms of Kali. The Kali usually means Bhadra Kali. The Divine Mother is worshipped in the form of Maha Kali, Nitya Kali, Smashana Kali, Raksha Kali, and Shyama Kali. 

Dakshina Kali is the most popular and approachable form of the Goddess. Dakshina Kali is kind and considered the protector goddess. She is worshipped in temples and Hindu households.

Shyama Kali is the blue form of Dakshina Kali.

In times of epidemic, famine, earthquake, drought, and flood, people worship Raksha Kali, the Protectress.

Smashana Kali, as the name suggests, resides in the cremation ground. She is surrounded by corpses, jackals, and terrible female spirits. A stream of blood flows from her mouth. She wears a gruesome garland of human heads, and around her waist is a girdle(cummerbund) made of human arms. 

According to Tantrics, the spiritual exercises practiced in a cremation ground bring success quickly.

If the Goddess Kali steps out with her right foot and holds the sword in her left hand, then she is a Dakshina Kali. Smashana Kali steps out with her left foot and holds the sword in her right hand.

Adya Kali cannot be worshipped in the house. Animal sacrifice is necessary for her Puja.

In fact, in West Bengal, each district, town, and village have its very own Kali, famous for a particular event or miracle.

Even robbers have their own Kali. Many years ago, robbers who lived in the jungle had the habit of worshipping Dakait Kali(Robbers Kali) before they went to rob people on highways and in villages. 

Dakait Kali Bari (Dacoit's Kali Temple) of Purna Das Road (earlier Manoharpukur Road) in South Kolkata had an old history. It is said that famous dacoit Manohar Bagdi worshipped the Goddess in this temple.

Why Goddess is Black

Around Kali's neck are numerous necklaces. The frightful garland of fifty human skulls around Goddess's neck is called the Varnamala. Each twenty-one skulls represent a letter of the alphabet. 

Kali Puja 2020

Goddess Kali is the Mother of the universe. The color of the Goddess is black because she absorbs vices such as hatred, malice, deceit, anger, passion, etc. through the process of destruction.

She is invoked for success in war. She is the most approachable Goddess and quickly answers prayer.

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