Kali Puja on Diwali
The moment we think of Goddess Kali, the first thing that comes to our mind is her fierce and  violent face. Goddess Kali is depicted with her foot on Lord Shiva’s chest, a severed head in one hand, a sword in the other and wearing a garland of skulls around her neck.  She is the aggressive version and the very first incarnation of Goddess Durga, who is known for her courageousness. Her name is derived from the Sanskrit word Kal , which means time. In spite of her fearful appearance, the love she has for her children is abundant and takes on the role of an eternally caring mother.

Kali is worshiped as the mother Goddess who is known to annihilate all evil and fights for justice. Kali is popularly known as Shyama, Adya Ma, Tara Ma, Dakshina Kalika, Chamundi, Shyama Kali and Bhadra Kali.

A particular festival is dedicated to this Goddess and is called as Kali Puja or Shyama Puja or the Dipanwita Kali Puja or Tantrik Kali Puja and is celebrated during the time of Diwali. It falls on new moon day of Kartika month according to the Hindu Lunar calendar which falls between October and November and is one of the major festival celebrated in Bengal.

It is flamboyantly celebrated by Bengali s as well as Oriya s and Assamese all over the world. Kali puja is done on the day the new moon prevails during midnight, so it may fall on the same day as Lakshmi puja or may fall a day prior to it. This year (2013) the Kali Puja falls on November 2nd and the Lakshmi Puja fall on November 3rd.

Same day or not, the celebration of Kali puja exceeds the pompousness of Lakshmi puja and every other celebrations in Bengal - except for Durga Puja. The ritual of lighting earthen lamps as done on Lakshmi puja is also done on this day and the homes are lavishly decorated  with flowers and vibrant rangolis. New clothes and jewelry are also adorned to celebrate this day with great joy.

The significance of Kali puja is to eradicate negativity of self and to destroy immorality in all forms that stops one from achieving spiritual fulfillment. During the puja, people pray for protection against drought and war, for general happiness, health, wealth, and peace, protection against adversity and evil in this world

Origin of Kali Puja:


Unlike other Hindu pujas celebrated, the Kali puja is not an ancient rite and doesn t follow the Vedas. Rather it was popularized by Raja Krishnachandra, King of Navadvipa in the 18th century and proceeded by his son Ishvarchandra in the 19th century. The puja was done in a grandiose manner by them and continued in the same manner by their subsequent wealthy family members.

Legend of Goddess Kali:

As the legend goes, two demons Shambhu and Nishambhu were creating ruckus in heaven. A battle had ensued with total failure on King Indira s part and he had taken refuge in the Himalayas along with his legion. They pleaded for Goddess Durga s help to defeat the demons and consequently Mahakali was born from the brows of Goddess Durga.

After battling and defeating the demons, Goddess Kali was blinded by fury and began to slaughter everyone in her sight. The other Gods were scared by her blood craze and believed that only Lord Shiva, the Goddesses consort could pacify her and sought his help. Lord Shiva placed himself in Goddess Kali s path to stop her rampage, and in her frenzy Goddess Kali inadvertently stepped on him. She was quick to realize her mistake and appeased herself. It is this  crucial day that is celebrated as Kali Puja

The famous picture of Goddess Kali that shows her with her tongue out and her stepping on Lord Shiva s chest, depicts the moment in which she repents her sin of stepping on Lord Shiva.

Goddess Kali and Symbology:

Kali s Blackness - Transcendental nature.
Kali s nakedness - Transparency and free from any illusions.
Garland of 50 human heads - Represents the 50 letter in Sanskrit alphabets. Symbolizes wisdom.
Girdle of severed hands - Signify the action of karma. She blesses us by cutting us away from cycle of karma.
White Teeth - Symbol of her inner purity.
Red Tongue - Shows her indiscriminate enjoyments of everything in this world.
Four arms - Represents the entire cycle of creation and destruction.
Sword & Severed head - Symbolized the destruction of ignorance and the birth of wisdom & knowledge.
Three Eyes - Represent 3 modes of time: Past, Present & Future and also Sun, Moon and Fire.

Kali Puja Ritual and Offerings:

Shyama Puja
On this day, Goddess Kali is worshipped in the form of idols. It is usually kept in a open ground so that many can come pray and take part in the communal prayers. People visit them all night and offer their prayers to the Goddess. There are two ways to do this puja; Brahmin way and the Tantrik way. In Brahmin way, Offerings of sweets, lentils and rice are made. The ritual of dressing up in Goddess Adya Shakti Kali and offering prayers are done on this day.

In Tantrik way, Kali puja is done during the night time and special Tantrik prayers are rites are followed during this puja. The color Red is said to make Goddess Kali happy, so Red flowers like Hibiscus are offered. Along with the flowers, blood of sacrificed animals, skulls, meat and fish are also offered. These offerings are followed by strict meditation throughout the night and till dawn. No matter which manner the puja is done, it is always done during night time.

Since Kali puja is celebrated in all its grandiose, the celebrations also include music, dances, dramas, crackers and theaters. Some even consume alcohol when socializing with their friends and relatives. Famous temples like the Kalighat temple and the Dakshineshwar Kali temple in Kolkata and the Kamkhya temple in Assam are filled to the brim with devotees waiting to at least have a mere glimpse of this gracious Goddess and offer their prayers to her.

Things needed for Kali Puja:

  • Goddess Kali idol, Lord Ganesha idol, Lord Vishnu idol
  • Offerings - Kali Puja per say does not need elaborate offering as the Goddess being a loving mother accepts everything her child, the devotee offers, but tradition has made it a elaborate and flamboyant affair.
  • Earthen Lamp
  • Incense
  • Flowers.
  • Tantrik symbols
  • Pitcher with water in it.
  • Rice
  • Darba grass,
  • Sandalwood powder

Kali Puja Prayer

"Om namo mahakali roopam shakti tu jyoth swaroopa mare
 Pavagadh wali maiya pyari daya karo mahakali re - 2
 
 Shumbha nishumba ko tumne maraa ratabij ko sanharare
 Dushto ko sauharane wali daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Suraj chanda me roop saamaya tara ko roopa tu pyaara hey
 Bhaktoke dukhaharani wali daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Tere roop ke dekhe jwalaa daakina bhi darajati re
 Santaguni janaa tumko puje daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Daksha ke kunda me tu samaakar paravati bann aayi re
 Mahima tere bare nerali daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Kalcatte me tu kali maa jai jagajanani jwala re
 Aao maa aao bhakt pukaare daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Aakhand jyot tumhaari hey maiyaa saare graho ko sudhaare re
 Laaja rakho hey pavagadh wali daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Haathe tu siraape rakhate maiya tujhsana koii nyarare
 Hey bramhaani hey kalyaani daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Vidya roop toh vishwa vidhaata maa kali meri maata re
 Bhakto paramaa maine tumhaare daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Koyi mantra tantra naahi chane uspe jo maa tere sahaare re
 Dwaarakare tu bisobhuja se daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Hara ek khota karma hatave bhaari dukha mitaave re
 Sharaname tere maa hum aaye daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Tere krupa ke kirane maiya humko shakti deti re
 Sharaname aaye tere saavaali daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Huma agyaani hey sansaari momayaa me uuljhe re
 Hamare moha ke bandhane kaato daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Shesha mahesha ke re gunn gaani bramhaa paarana pave re
 Vishnu ji kare prathana tere daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Taaranahaari taaro humko paap hamaari mitaao re
 Rehima karo hey maa rakhavaali daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Angha peyra aura rogaa naaaave jo tere gunagaave re
 Bhakto ke bhava vaathaa haraani daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Bhuta preta tere naama se bhaage sankata kabhi naa aave re
 Naiyaa parana gaanevali daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Pooja ko tithi vidhi naa jaanu vishwambhara kya bhakaanoo re
 Darashana deydo din daayaali daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Mantra tantra ko mai naa jaanu maiyaa parhu chaalisa re
 Jeevana me maa karana uljaalaa daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 
 Beychaa bhavaar me phasi hey naiya aakara lajj bachaanaa re
 Sad buddhi ka daana he deynaa daaya karo mahakali re
 Daaya karo mahakali re
 Om namo mahakali roopam shakti tu jyoth swaroopa mare
 Pavagadh wali maiya pyari daya karo mahakali re "

Meaning of the prayer:

Praise to the form of Mahakali You are the energy, you are the light, the everlasting flame. The Mother at Pavagadh, you are adorned and loved, be merciful, Maa Kali.
You killed the demons Shumbh Anishumbh and Rakhatbeeja, you diminished many demons, please have mercy Maa Kali .
Your form is in the sun, the moon and the stars of the universe, you dissolve your devotees troubles away, please have mercy Maa Kali .
Your fiery form scares away negative beings, that is why Saints, Gurus and Yogis pray for your protection, please have mercy Maa Kali.
You immersed yourself in King Daksha’s Havan and returned incarnated as Parvati, your history is extraordinary, please have mercy Maa Kali.
In Kolkata you reside in the famous temple of Kali, Glory to the Mother of the earth, Jwala ,please come and heed the calls of your devotees, please have mercy Maa Kali.
Your eternal flame, controls all the planets, we plead you to defend the honor of your followers, please have mercy Maa Kali
Keep your caring hand on your devotees heads, No one is like you, you are fascinating You are Maa Brahmani – the benevolant, please have mercy, Maa Kali
In the form of Wisdom you are the complete Knowledge Maa Kali,
my mother, your devotees will feel your presence, please have mercy Maa Kali
No negative mantra or witchcraft can affect anyone that you support, you can fight anything, please have mercy Maa Kali

Doing Kali Puja with a Priest:

The rituals and symbols involved when a priest does the Kali Puja is much more advanced and needs to be done properly with the appropriate mudras and invocation prayers.

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