Kolkata: Celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu month Kartik, Kali Puja, also called Shyama Puja, or Mahanisha Puja, is a festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. While the Bengalis, Odias and Assamese worship the goddess Kali, Lakshmi puja is conducted on this day by the rest of the nation.
King Krishnachandra of Navadvipa introduced Kali Puja in Bengal during the 18th century. Within the next century, the patronization of this festival by Krishanachandra’s grandson Ishvarchandra along with the Bengali elite raised the popularity of the puja enabling it to take its grand form today.
Devotees and worshippers honour the goddess by giving offerings of red hibiscus flowers, sweets, rice, lentils, fish, meat and even ritualistic animal sacrifices to her clay idols in homes or at pandals. The goddess is worshipped with tantric mantras and rites at night and true devotees are supposed to meditate throughout the night till dawn. Blood donation camps and other events are carried out throughout Bengal by many clubs holding their individual Kali pujas.
Photos by Arnab Mitra