After Durga puja, comes Kali puja which is celebrated all over the state of West Bengal. Likewise in Kolkata, it is celebrated with great pomp and splendour not only in the barowari puja pandals of the city; but also in some families of Kolkata, where the puja is being celebrated for more than hundred years. The tradition, splendour and aristocracy still remains. This year I have covered some families of north and central Kolkata where Goddess Kali is being worshipped. Here some pictures may have been taken much earlier. Like Durga Puja, this puja also attracts a huge number of spectators specially at night as Goddess Kali or Shyama is worshipped at night and, the households are decorated with light as this puja is the festival of light.
Chorbagan Mitra Bari: This house at Muktaram Babu street is celebrating Kali puja for more than 330 years. Here goddess is worshipped as Shyama. Previously this Kali was known as Mithai Kali. The family also worships Goddess Durga. The goddess is unique.
The grand house with six large pillars at the entrance reminds one of Gothic architecture. It was built by the famous Maintosh and Burn. The idol is about 18 feet in height and sweets of the same size is arranged by the side of the goddess earned the name Mithai Kali.
Pal Bari of 96B, S. N. Banerjee Road is celebrating Kali puja from 1785 onwards. The present house belonged to the estate of Rye Charan Pal where Durga, Kali and Kartick pujas are held in the same dalan. Though Durga Puja started here from 1775 but Kali Puja started ten years later. I have been told by a family member that only hundred years back, the idol was prepared in the dalan itself; but now it was brought from Kumartuli. The puja here is performed according to the Sakta rituals but instead of animal sacrifice fruits are used for bali. Here luchi bhog is served to the goddess.
Kali Puja of Tarak Pramanik’s house of 154, Tarak Pramanik Road, Kolkata is celebrating Durga Puja for more than 230 years. Here the goddess is worshipped as Maa Kali. Here Kumari puja is performed; but no animal sacrifice and annobhog. The practice of animal sacrifice was stopped from1998 onwards.
An unique feature of the puja is the century-old chalchitra made of brass with nickel embellishments. Here arati, a ritual connected with the puja is done with 108 pradips or oil lamps.
Kali Puja of Chunder Bari of 23, Nirmal Chandra Street is more than hundred years old. The puja was started by Ganesh Chandra Chandra who was the grandfather of Late Pratap Chandra Chandra. The family also worships Goddess Durga from 1877 onwards.
Here Goddess Kali is worshipped in the dalan which was designed by famous architect, Satish Chandra Chattopadhyay. The thakurdalan had stucco works.
Kali Puja of Sanyal Bari of 20, Bosepara Lane, Baghbazar is worshipping Goddess Shyama from 1916 onwards. The house belonged to Late Baikunthanath Sanyal, the first accountant of Ramkrishna Math and Ramkrishna Mission, Belur. He was one of the disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahansadev. Swami Vivekananda fondly call Baikunthanath “Sandal”. Later Baikunthanath was known by the name of Swami Kripananda Maharaj. The puja here is done following the Kalika Puran and there is no bali. Apart from Kali Puja, Durga Puja and Annapurna Puja are also held here.
Goddess Kali of 108, Muktarambabu Street has eighteen hands. I spotted this beautiful Kali protima while looking for some bonedi houses this morning. Here Maa Kali is unique in the sense that it is made of astodhatu (an alloy of eight metals). The idol is about five feet in height. There is a story behind this idol.
I have been informed by Shri Sukanta Mukherjee, a family member that his ancestor Ashutosh Mukherjee once went to Nepal for tantra sadhana. There while meditating in the mountains, he suddenly found an idol of Goddess Kali made of stone. Looking at the idol, he found that the goddess has eighteen hands instead of four. He brought that idol at his home in Muktaram Babu Street in 1902 and as per the divine dream a much larger idol was built from astodhatu. Special worship is performed on each Amavasya tithi. Earlier there used to be animal sacrifice but now stopped completely. The ritual of Kumari Puja was previously performed here; but now stopped. Maa Sitala is on the right of Maa Kali and Jarasur (green coloured), son of Maa Sitala is on the left. The temple also houses a Shiva lingam and Radha Krishna.
Kali Puja of Pramanik Bari of 37A, Tarak Pramanik Road, Kolkata is celebrating Kali Puja for more than four centuries. Besides Kali Puja, the family also celebrates Jagadhatri Puja. The idol is prepared in the dalan itself, and on the morning of Kali Puja, the Goddess is decorated with ornaments. When this puja started four hundred years back, this present place was known by the name of Gobindapur. And this house together with the dalan was made of mud. Bali used to be held earlier but from 2004 onwards it was stopped permanently.
The ritual of dhuno porano, which is a familiar feature of Durga Puja of the bonedi houses is practised here meticulously. Anna bhog is not served here. There are a number of unique features connected with this Kali Puja. Firstly, the family members follow a vegetarian diet seven days prior to the puja; secondly, the family members follow the ritual of Bijoya the next day after Kali Puja and earlier the idol was carried on the shoulders and taken to the ghat for immersion.
Kali Puja of Halder Bari
For this particular puja please click here: Kali Puja of Halder Bari
I would like to thank Sri Saptarshi Ghosh for accompanying me this morning to the houses where the puja is being held and also provided me with some information about the rituals and customs of the puja.
There are a number of houses in Kolkata where Kali Puja is held for a very long time. It is rather difficult to cover all of them in a single year. In the subsequent years I will try to cover them.
Date of posting: 27th October, 2019.