Kali Puja, also known as Shyama Puja, celebrated in West Bengal, coincides with Diwali celebrations across the country. Not only in Bengal, Kali Puja is celebrated in Orissa and Assam as well. Similar to Diwali, Kali Puja is commemorates the victory of good over evil and is celebrated on the moonless night of Kartik Amavasya. However, both these individual festivals have their own significant differences as well. While Kali Puja is concerned with worshipping Goddess Kali, Diwali involves honoring Goddess Lakshmi. Kali Puja is celebrated on an extensive level with immense zeal and gusto to seek protection from the eternal Goddess. Find out more about the legends and celebrations of Kali Puja in West Bengal in the following lines.
Kali Puja Legends
As per legends in Hindu mythology, two powerful demons, Shambhu and Nisambhu, challenged Lord Indra and attacked the Kingdom of Heaven. The Gods had no option but to fight with the demons though it was futile. The demons were successful in establishing their supremacy after several battles. The power of the demons kept on increasing and ultimately the Gods had to leave their heavenly abode and seek refuge in the Himalayas. The Himalayas was the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati (Durga). Here, the Gods requested Goddess Durga for protection against the demons.
Goddess Durga answered their prayer and thus, a new goddess, Kali emerged from her forehead to save the heaven and earth from the atrocities of the demons. Kali went to battle with the demons and killed them all. Kali made a garland of the heads of the demons and wore it around her neck. In the carnage, Kali lost control and started an endless massacre killing anyone who came in front of her. No one dared to stop or stand in front of Kali, but ultimately Lord Shiva devised a plan to stop the chaos.
To stop the destruction, Lord Shiva laid down in the path of Kali. When Kali stepped on Lord Shiva she came to her senses and stopped the carnage. Since then, this day has since been celebrated as Kali Puja. Devotees perform Kali Puja to seek protection from war, drought and other evils and ask for blessings, prosperity and well being. Kali Puja is a form of tantric puja that can be performed only at midnight on the dark night of Amavasya.
Kali is the Hindu Goddess of eternal energy and death. The word Kali comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Kaal’ which means ‘time’. Goddess Kali is considered to be the first of the ten incarnations of Goddess Durga. Goddess Kali is the most terrifying of all the goddesses in Hindu mythology. Though Goddess Kali is associated with death, the Hindu scriptures suggest she brought the death of human ego and evil spirits. Goddess Kali is most commonly depicted with her foot on Lord Shiva’s chest, a severed head in one hand, a sword in the other and with a garland of 52 skulls around her neck and a skirt made of dismembered arms.
Kali Puja Celebrations
West Bengal witnesses the celebration of Kali Puja on the grandest and biggest level. People decorate their houses, light lamps and draw rangoli patterns in their houses and courtyards. People worship goddess Kali to destroy all evil that resides in an individual and also the evil and darkness around people. Kali puja is performed is to eradicate the ego and negative tendencies residing in an individual. Kali puja is celebrated at midnight on the dark night of Kartik Amavasya.