Hindu Festivals

About Kali Puja, Legends of Kali Puja – पूजा नदी

Kali Puja
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Place of merriment: West Bengal

Kali Puja is celebrated on a massive scale in West Bengal, amidst the sound of crackers and fireworks followed by installation of Kali Mata idol. For the Bengalis, it is hailed as the loud-banging festival where there the entire place resembles a war battleground.

The celebration of Kali Puja is to seek the help of the Goddess in destroying negative vibes that exists in our spiritual and materialistic world. Most of the Kali Puja celebrations are rejoiced on a grandeur scale at Kali temples in West Bengal. Amongst them are the Dakshineswar temple in Banaras, Kalighat Temple and Tarapith Temple in kolkata and Kamakhya Temple in Assam. It is a tantrik puja performed only at midnight on new moon day (Amavasya) during the Kartik month of October or November.

Who Is Goddess Kali?

Goddess Kali is affectionately known as ‘Kali Maa’. She is regarded as the powerful form of Goddess Durga. She is the first of ten avatars and the most apprehensive form (incarnations) of Goddess Durga. If you have seen the picture of ‘Goddess Kali’, every image of the picture has a mythological story behind it. She is represented as the fiercest features amongst all world deities. Her physical anatomy is different from other Goddesses in the following ways:

Kali Maa has awesome symbols and features

  • Four arms with a sword in one hand, head of a demon in another hand and the other two hands to seek her blessings.
  • Two dead heads as her earrings
  • String of skulls as necklace
  • Girdle as her clothing
  • A protruding tongue from her mouth
  • Three red eyes
  • Black face and breasts sullied with blood.
  • Stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on her husband’s Lord Shiva’s chest.

Behind her ferocious complexion, Kali symbolizes different meanings.

Physical features of KaliSymbolic representation
Black complexionKali’s embracing and transcendental nature
Garland of fifty human headsInfinite knowledge
Girdle of severed human handsSymbolizes work and liberation from the cycle of karma
White teethinner purity
Red rolling tongueOmnivorous nature
SwordDestroyer of false consciousness
Her three eyesRepresent modes of time—the past, present and future

Legends of Kali Puja

As the legend goes, the demons, Shambhu and Nishambhu, disturbed the peace of Indra, the king of gods, and his empire (heaven). After extensive and endless battles, the gods lost all hope and the demons became stronger.

The Gods sought protection from Mahamaya Durga, the goddess of Shakti. Here, it is believed that Kali was born from Durga’s forehead, to protect the earth from the ferocious demons. Along with Dakini and Jogini, her two escorts, she set on her way to end the war and kill the devils. There was chaos all around. After slaughtering the demons, Kali made a garland of their heads and wore it around her neck. In the bloodbath, she lost control and started killing anyone who came her way. Seeing the endless slaughter, Shiva devised a plan to save the world. He lay down in the path of the rampaging Kali. When the goddess unknowingly stepped on him, she regained her senses. That’s why, she is regarded as the Goddess of Strength.

Kali Puja Rituals

Kali Puja, is a one-night affair, usually performed at midnight. Devotees stay awake the whole night till the rituals go on till dawn. The rituals of Kali puja are very simple and free from complexities. There is no elaborate cooking or preparations required to satisfy Ma Kali. At some places in Calcutta, pure wine is offered as a religious offering. After the chanting of the mantras, Ma Kali is worshipped amidst the bursting of crackers and display of fireworks. It is said that female goats and cows are sacrificed to please the God.

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