In the heartlands of eastern India, there exists a fervent celebration that ignites feelings of deep respect, devotion, and a better understanding of the complex aspects of divinity. Known as Kali Puja, this remarkable festival takes center stage in the region, second only to the grandeur of Durga Puja.
Unlike its predecessor, Durga Puja, which commences during Navratri, Kali Puja unfolds its splendor on the night of the New Moon (Amavasya) in the month of Ashwina or Kartika. This year, it will be celebrated on November 12, coinciding with Diwali.
This joyous festival is observed with great enthusiasm in Kali temples and colorful pandals throughout India, most notably in the vibrant states of West Bengal, Assam, and Bihar.
According to legend, Kali assumed a fearsome form in response to the heinous deeds of demons who threatened the very fabric of civilization. However, an alternative version of this narrative suggests that Kali's wrath was aroused by the degradation of human values. She was appalled by the iniquities of humanity, deviating from their innate nature. In her fury, she embarked on a path of destruction, vanquishing all who crossed her path and adorning a garland of severed heads as a grisly testament to her might.
Though she appeared unrelenting and destructive, Kali's underlying motive was to restore the genuine values of civilization and sanctity. Yet, her unbridled anger raised concerns among the Devas (celestial beings) that the universe teetered on the brink of annihilation. To avert this catastrophic fate, they beseeched Lord Shiva to intervene. In response, Shiva chose to lie motionless on the ground as if a lifeless corpse. Unbeknownst to Kali, in her frenzy, she inadvertently stepped on her husband, and realization flooded her being. Overwhelmed by guilt, she bit her own tongue, which is why she is often depicted with a blood-soaked tongue protruding outward.
This pivotal incident, believed to have transpired on the New Moon night in the month of Kartika or Ashwina, serves as the foundation for the celebration of Kali Puja. Devotees gather to seek the blessings of Goddess Kali, recognizing her as the embodiment of the eternal struggle between destruction and creation, chaos and order. The festival serves as a reminder of the enduring significance of cosmic balance and the restoration of fundamental human values.
Amavasya Tithi Begins: 02:44 pm on November 12, 2023
Amavasya Tithi Ends: 02:56 pm on November 13, 2023
Kali Puja, with its rich tapestry of legends and rituals, stands as a profound testament to the enduring appeal of the divine feminine and the eternal struggle for balance in the universe. As the night of the New Moon approaches, the eastern part of India will be bathed in the radiant light of oil lamps and fervent devotion, celebrating the undying spirit of Goddess Kali.