Sunday April 5, 2020

Kali Katha of Kolkata: How the capital city of West Bengal got its name from Goddess Kali

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By Newsgram Staff  Writer

She is furious. She is wild. She is a rebel. She symbolizes raw power. In Hindu mythology, it is said that goddess Kali originated from the forehead of goddess Durga in order to kill the demons Thimphu and Nishumbhu.

Although worshiped in two different forms, both Durga and Kali are the manifestations of feminine energy. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Kali adorns a garland of human skulls around her neck and human limbs around her waist. She is an epitome of women’s liberation and her dance is the dance of destruction. She creates Maya. Her favorite haunt is the crematoriums. Hers is a world that is dark, evil and gory to the normal eye. Yet, she is the mother to many and a powerful identity of the Hindu religion

Kali’s Journey to Kolkata

Kali is a subaltern goddess and in the past, tribals, dacoits, and the people living away amid hostile conditions sought her help to protect them from the natural calamities. Kali became the God of these people and her temples came up in thick jungles. It was much later, perhaps when these forests were encroached upon, that Kali got a place in the altars of the famous Babu culture of Calcutta.

Kali is the presiding deity of the city of Kolkata and it is after her the city has been named. The city was named Kalikata and was later anglicized to Calcutta after British took control of India. It is said that it was the wrath of Kali that fell on the young Nawab leading to his devastating defeat in the Battle of Plassey and the rest is history (of colonial Calcutta).

According to some historians, the name ‘Kolikata’ was derived from the Bengali term kilkila (“flat area”). But the most widely accepted theory is that it is linked with Goddess Kali. Kali is to Kalikata what Mumba Devi is to Mumbai and Athena is to Athens –it is not only the presiding deity of the city, but also what has given the city its identity and its name.

The term ‘Kalikata’ may have come from Kali Kota which means ‘temple of Kali’. The temple of Kalighat, regarded as one of the 51 shakti peethas, has found mention in texts written as early as 15th century. Thanthania Kalibari was set up in 1703 by another babu of that period Shankar Ghosh.

People of Kolkata have now absorbed Goddess Kali as an integral part of their heritage and culture. The famous festival of Kali Puja is a celebrated event and people from across the world come to this part of this country to experience the festivities.

In what may seem bizarre, on the day of Kali Puja a religious ceremony is also performed in the famous Keoratola crematorium, near Kalighat on where a dead human body is kept in front of the idol as an offering.

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Foodies Must Try These Dishes from the Streets of Kolkata

Here are 5 must try dishes from the streets of Kolkata

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Foodies Kolkata
Here are the dishes from the streets of Kolkata that foodies would not want to miss. Wikimedia Commons

BY PUJA GUPTA

When you think about Bengali food, you will have a veritable carnival of sweet treats and seafood dishes parading through your mind. While roaming the streets of Kolkata, you will drool at all the delicacies; thats the Kolkata street food scene for you. Every true Bengali food lover has their recommendations or will suggest some must-try street food. But there are a few places which foodies agree you have to try!

Chef Ananya Banerjee, the owner of LAB studio, who hails from West Bengal, lists the top five must-try food items from the streets of Kolkata:

(1) Kathi-roll:The Kathi-roll of Bengal is a famous Mughlai influenced dish. The dish comprises of mutton and chicken rolls, spiced with fresh lemon juice, finely chopped green chilies, red onions and salt and is served as a roll in an egg paratha. Simply mouth-watering!

(2) Jhal Muri: This Bengali take on Chaat, distinguishes itself with the use of mustard oil or paste. This pungent treat is a must-have for a tete-a-tete over tea!

(3) Kobiraji Cutlet: “Kobiraji”, is a juicy cutlet, usually made with prawn coated with a lacy fried egg on outside. “When I was young, I remember going down to the Shyam Bazar- crossing for evening walks with my grandfather. After our walk, we would regularly eat prawn- Kobiraji from a food stall called Allen’s Kitchen. This tiny place has been serving the delicacy for more than 80 years,” says Banerjee.

Jhal muri
Jhal Muri is a Bengali chat that is loved by all foodies. Wikimedia Commons

(4) Moghlai Porota: This is surely not for the faint-hearted! It’s a flaky, crispy porota (parantha) stuffed with mutton mince and eggs. Have one and it will keep your tummy full for the rest of the day! The Anadi-Cabin, a restaurant on Dharmatala streets in Kolkata, is one of the pioneers in making “Mughlai-porota”.

Also Read- The Best Destinations for a Perfect Travel Experience

(5) Macher Chop: Among the many influences that the British gave us in their 200-year reign, the “chop” preparation is very popular. You go anywhere in the world, the word “chop” usually means “cut-of-a-meat”. However, in Bengal, it typically means fish, meat or vegetables, crumb-fried. You will typically get a whiff of that appetizing aroma, from the local roadside snack counters every evening around 5 pm.

It’s barely a preface into the sheer delights Bengali cuisine has to offer, but this must-try is enough to get you hooked! (IANS)