Monday March 25, 2019

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.

Next Story

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May Survives Through Vote Of No-Confidence

If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?

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Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote in parliament Wednesday, one day after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against her plan to divorce Britain from the European Union.

Surviving the vote enables May to refocus on getting a Brexit deal through parliament. She has until Monday to offer a new proposal to the House of Commons, but it isn’t clear what she will propose.

Shortly after the 325 to 306 vote allowing May to remain in office, she invited party leaders for Brexit talks Wednesday night.

More talks?

May said before the vote Wednesday that Britain would leave the EU on the March 29 target date, and that the bloc would only consider extending the negotiating period if there were a realistic exit plan.

Aides to the prime minister said she will try to buy more time and return to Brussels to try to cajole EU leaders into a renegotiation.

EU leaders have repeatedly rejected the possibility of renegotiations since the deal was concluded in November, but British officials hope Brussels now may offer enough concessions to secure parliamentary backing on a replayed vote on an amended deal.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, filed a motion of no confidence in the government immediately after the result Tuesday.

Britain would have held a general election had May lost the vote. Most analysts said they expected her to survive the vote, and the minority Northern Ireland party she relies on to keep her minority government in office had said it would back the government.

Tuesday’s vote was the biggest parliamentary reversal ever handed a sitting government, with lawmakers — including more than 100 rebels from her ruling Conservative Party — refusing to endorse the highly contentious Brexit deal.

Britain, May
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party, talks during a no-confidence debate after Parliament rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal, in London, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

The government’s defeat plunged into greater disarray Britain’s scheduled March 29 exit from the EU. Major questions remain about how and whether it will happen.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Wednesday that after the British parliament’s rejection of a draft agreement detailing the country’s divorce from the EU, the risk of reaching the deadline with no deal in place is higher than ever.

The vote against the agreement was the biggest parliamentary reversal ever handed a sitting government, with lawmakers, including more than 100 rebels from her ruling Conservative party, refusing to endorse the highly contentious Brexit deal.

Just 202 lawmakers backed May’s deal with 432 voting against it. The defeat dwarfed the previous 1924 record when then-Labor Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald lost a vote by 166, triggering the collapse of his government and a general election, which he lost.

After the vote, May said, “The vote tells us nothing” about what the House of Commons would agree to regarding Brexit.

Second referendum

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A pro-European demonstrator protests in front of a Leaver campaign board opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Jan. 15, 2019, ahead of lawmakers’ vote on whether to accept British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Later, the plan was soundly defeated. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29. VOA

The defeat of May’s plan will give further momentum to a burgeoning campaign in the House of Commons, and among Remainers in the country, for a second referendum, according to analysts. Remainers hope a replayed referendum would reverse the Brexit plebiscite of 2016, which Leavers narrowly won.

The vote on the deal — which originally was due in December but was delayed by the government when it became clear there was insufficient backing for it to pass — also leaves hanging in the balance May’s future as prime minister. Her aides maintained at the end of a day of high political drama that she wouldn’t resign.

“She is the person who has to deliver Brexit,” said British Business Minister Claire Perry, who said May didn’t need to resign.

“There will be other attempts at this. There will be strenuous efforts to improve on the deal,” Perry said.

The sheer scale of the defeat throws into doubt whether even a reshaped Brexit Withdrawal Agreement would secure parliamentary approval in the future, even if the EU is prepared to reopen negotiations.

Britain, May
British Business Minister Claire Perry arrives to attend a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

‘Hopelessly optimistic’

“Her Plan B, more of the same, is hopelessly optimistic,” said commentator Isabel Oakeshott.

Also Read: British Lawmakers Rejects Brexit Deal, PM Faces Vote Of No-Confidence

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted when news of the historic vote broke: “I take note with regret of the outcome of the vote in the House of Commons this evening. I urge the UK to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up.”

EU President Donald Tusk reflected the frustration of many in Brussels, tweeting: “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?” (VOA)