Bhoot Chaturdashi and Kali Pujo of Bengalis
West Bengal along with 3 other states celebrates Kali Pujo while the rest of India celebrates Diwali on this new moon day. Goddess Kali, addressed as Maa Kali is the ferocious form of Goddess Durga. But before that Bengali households celebrate Bhoot Chaturdashi, a unique custom. The night prior to Kali Pujo, it is believed that bhoot descends on earth. Bengalees clean up the house, clear all garbage which is considered a favorite haunt of bhoot (ghosts). 14 lamps are lit up in house which they believe are to keep away the spirits of 14 previous generations. In addition to that they eat 14 different kinds of leafy vegetables.
Kali Pujo Idol Making
And just like how in Durga Pujo clay idols of goddess is made for Kali Pujo too clay idols are made and painted. Usually the idol makers who come to Bangalore for making the idols of Goddess Durga make idols of Goddess Kali at the same time. These are made in much smaller shapes and are usually given a deep blue color, though some idols are given a complete black color. I watched the artisans paint the idols and it was a beautiful and calming experience.
There is a story behind this form of Goddess Kali:
Goddess Kali is believed to be born from the brow of Goddess Durga during one of her battles with the evil forces. In the battle, Kali was so much involved in the killing people that she began destroying everything in sight. To stop her, other Gods requested her husband Lord Shiva to save them from her wrath. Lord Shiva threw himself under her feet. Shocked at this turn of events, Kali stuck out her tongue in astonishment and embarrassment. This put an end to her wild acts. It is this form of Kali that is worshipped in midnight. The idol depicts her in her mêlée mood, standing with one foot on Shiva’s chest, with her enormous tongue stuck out. Kali Puja is done to diminish the ego and all negative tendencies that hinder spiritual progress and material prosperity.
Kali Pujo Pandals
Kali Pujos are usually not done in a theme based manner. They are done in pandals like Durga Pujo but the celebration is just for one day, rather one night. People visit the pandals throughout the night in their best attires. Another opportunity for women to make purchases! Bursting crackers too has become a part of this pujo, mostly done by youngsters to keep pace with others celebrating Diwali.
This year the kali pujo will be past midnight of 10th November. Women fast throughout the day and break their fast after the puja process is complete. I am looking forward to Kali Pujo night (but not fasting. I love food too much).