Updated: Nov 12, 2020
My previous article on this page mentioned that Bengalis get to enjoy " 12 maashe , 13 porbon " ( 13 festival in a space of 12 months ) , Kali Puja is one of them.
Kali Puja also known as Shyama Puja , is a Hindu festival celebrated majorly in East of India. The rituals happen at night , and the reason for celebrations is to ask The Goddess's blessings to overcome the battle between the good and the evil and for general happiness and good health. Kali is a form of Durga , or if you say , Durga is also a form of Kali , you'd be technically correct.
Before the 18th century , this festival was unheard of , however , a late 17th century devotional text - Kalika mangalkavya written by Balram ,reads about an annually celebrated festival dedicated to Kali. During the 18th Century , Kali Puja was introduced in Bengal by Raja Krishnachandra of present day Krishnanagar , Nadia , West Bengal.
It is an annual festival and its date is decided according to the lunar calendar.
Kali Maa is regarded as the most strong and fierce form of shakti ( power) . She has a dark complexion , has red eyes and has four arms. She carries a sword in one hand and has a decapitated head of a demon in the other hand and the rest two are said to shower blessings upon her devotees.
In Bengali culture , the significance of female Goddess is massive and festivals like Kali Puja , Durga Puja , Laxmi Puja , Saraswati Puja surrounds celestial female beings and hence, with the birth of a girl child , the family feels blessed and consider their daughters to be a form of happiness and luck.
The city of Barasat , West Bengal is judged to the epicentre of the best Kali Puja celebrations in all of India. Millions of people flock to Barasat to witness the grasping view of the best pandals and idols one's eye get the chance to meet and it gets better every year , current year tops the previous year , such is the spectacle. Barasat is at a distance of 20 kms from the capital city, Kolkata. Trains and buses are accessible to the public from the city centre of Kolkata to Barasat everyday.
With the end of Kali Puja ,the Sharodustov or autumn festivals ends in Bengal. Devotees of Maa Kali follow a very strict period of fasting , a fasting that is done without water. Hibiscus flower is considered very important in completing the rituals of the puja and it is said to be Her favorite flower. As a part of bhog , people offer Her rice , lentils and sweets.
Kali is the Goddess of destruction and chaos. She was born out of Durga to save heaven and earth from cruel demons.