Kali Puja is a festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. Therefore, this grandeur occasion is celebrated in the eastern part of India. This puja mainly falls on the night of Kartik Amavasya in the Hindu month of Ashwin. While the rest of India celebrates Lakshmi Puja on this day popularly known as Diwali or Dipawali, people in Bengal, Odisha and Assam revere Maa Kali.
Bengalis truly believe that the goddess stands for the restoration of life and justice on earth with a message for everyone to be virtuous and live with peace and congruity.
Maa Kali signifies the universe
Symbolically also, four-handed fierce goddess Kali signifies the universe. As the universe has both positive and negative forces, the figure of Kali connotes the same. Goddess Kali holds a severed head and a weapon, Kharg, with blood dripping from it on her left hand. Nevertheless, with her right hands, she blesses her worshippers and also offers food and grains to the poor. She denotes both life and death. Also, beneath her feet lies Shiva, who represents consciousness, which means that the basis of the universe rests on consciousness.
However, according to history, it is a true belief among Bengalis that Maharaja Krishnan Chandra of Nawadweep once had a dream where Maa Kali came and ordered him to give a command that everyone, in his domain should worship Kali.
Legends of Shambhu and Nishambhu
There is another story related to Kali Puja. According to legends, once the demons named Shambhu and Nishambhu grew in force and gave a challenge to Indra, King of Gods, and his Kingdom of Heaven. Gods sought protection from Mahamaya Durga, the Goddess of Shakti or Power. This was when Goddess Kali was born from Durga’s forehead to save heaven and earth from the barbarism of the demons.
After destroying the demons, Goddess Kali made a garland of their heads and wore around her neck. She then became furious and started killing anyone whom she found in her way. To stop this, Lord Shiva threw himself under her feet, and unknowingly she stepped on Shiva. Shocked with this sight, Lord Kali stuck her tongue out in astonishment and put an end to her killing spree. Therefore, this is the image of Maa Kali that we worship during Kali Puja.
Maa kali, the first among the 10 incarnations of Durga
Kali or Shyama Kali is the first of the 10 incarnations of Durga. So, Kali Puja is performed essentially to seek safety against drought and war, and also for bestowing happiness, health, wealth, and peace. It is actually a tantric puja performed only at midnight on Amavasya.
We also revere Maa Kali to seek blessings of the goddess to destroy evil – both in the outside world and within us. Besides, people do Kali Puja to diminish the ego and all negative tendencies that block spiritual progress and material prosperity. So, on Diwali, we revere goddess Kali and lit ‘Diyas’ in her respect with a promise for doing great deeds.