The journey inward- Kali Pujo- the Goddess within us

One of the most fascinating goddesses in Hindu mythology is the dusky skinned Goddess who recently made her annual trip to the earth land. Kali coincides her visit with the celebration of the Festival of Lights, Deepawali, for a short but memorable trip. Unlike, Goddess Durga, who comes for a whole 4 days, She comes for an overnight trip and goes back with a bang.

Who is Goddess Kali

Once upon a time, there was a demon named Raktabeej, who would clone himself every time his blood touched the earth.

The Gods worshipped to the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) who created Kali. When Kali vanquished him and cut his head, she drank all his blood so that not a drop fell on the earth.

The dance of death

The Godddess, filled with the demon’s blood and demonic energy began her victory dance. She danced, with her shrieks filling the air and she continued to vanquish the demons army in a mashable pulp. With her wild shrieks, her untamed hair, she continued to devour the corpses and dance so wildly that the world started collapsing around her.

In despair, the gods ran to Shiva (Her husband) and asked Him to do something.

Shiva called out to Kali but she was mirthfully dancing away. Shiva called out again, but again His words went unheard. Finally in an act of complete desperation, Shiva threw Himself down beneath Her feet.

Her ‘Oopsie’ moment

Kali continued her frenzied dancing, pounding the life out of Her husband. It was a few moments more before She realized that it was indeed Her husband, Shiva, who lay flattened at Her feet. This quickly brought Her out of Her trance, and She stuck Her tongue out in what would be called now an ‘Oopsie’ moment.

With that, She calmed down and the world was saved from destruction.

When mythology imitates life

I think the purpose of mythology is to tell a story to the common man. There are subliminal messages, which, with visuals have a lasting impact; and Hindu mythology has mastered the art.

Kali is a form of Shakti or the female power. She is called by many names- Durga, Parvati, the Goddess Tara (in Buddhism) and every religion has her form.

The esoteric side of divinity…

She is ferocious, unbridled, wears a garland of skulls of those she has vanquished and she asks for blood ( traditionally goats are sacrificed) to appease her. She is esoteric and associated with nature’s unknown dark side and Tantra. She is the personification of anger- the destructive force that clears way for light and new beginnings.

When She comes to Southern California

In Southern California, we are a small but mighty community- we have 3 community pujos and a couple of pujos that are held in individual homes. I’ll cover one this year.

Bharat Sevashram Sangha West, Orange County, California

Nestled amongst the beautiful foothills of Orange County, this tranquil locale of 5 acres is the home to Bharat Sevashram Sangha West (BSSW) in Brea, California.

BSSW, a venerable organization in India, at least 200 years old, is a vast network of volunteers across the globe dedicated to helping people in distress.

For the last 15 years, the organization has been hosting all important Hindu festivals on the actual day of the pujo.

Pujo donations

A nominal fee (20 dollars per person) covers the pujo, afternoon light snacks and a delicious dinner that can be paid at the counter. Just to attend the pujo, there is no charge.

Ma Kali with the backdrop of Durga thakur
The pujo

The community kitchen

Apart from the actual pujo area, this real estate always gets a good foot traffic as delicious smells are wafting from the kitchen when the food is being cooked. It’s our version of the ‘soup kitchen’, just very eclectic food.

The way to capture a Bengali man’s heart

Through his stomach , of course.

If you have made luchi (pooris) and eggplant fry, you not only get the man, you get his family too.

At the end of the pujo, there is this scrumptious dinner, or bhuribhoj (literally translated – tummy treat;).

The Kali within us

To me, Goddess Kali is one of the most fascinating characters of Hindu Mythology. She is the fulcrum where Gods intersect humans and mythology meets reality.

She is dusky, unlike most Gods and Goddesses who are light skinned (light skin is perceived as a sign of beauty).

She is worshiped at night, while most dieties are worshipped in the day. She is worshipped during new moon or Amawasya, mostly, other pujos are during Purnima or full moon.

She is the dark side of divinity that vanquishes everyone and everything in a her way to bring light and, with the first ray of light, she is gone and has taken the darkness with her.

She is the personification of a very human element- anger. Her passion is unbridled, not muted and She, like all of us, has her Oopsie moment when she steps on Her husband by mistake.

At the end, like any mother, in human or divine form, She fiercely defends her children and will stop at nothing to protect them from harm’s way.

Kali pujo is the grand finale to the pujo season.. ushers another year of new beginnings.

9 responses to “The journey inward- Kali Pujo- the Goddess within us”

  1. Very nicely written…🙏❤️😊


  2. Well written…Maa Kali is beautiful in all her expressions! Good to know about so many facets of her


  3. Sudeshna Halder Avatar
    Sudeshna Halder

    Enjoyed reading it 😊❤️🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well written Blog as always ❤️. With many religious significances associated with this festival and the multiple ways of celebrating in different regions of India, Enjoyed reading how Diwali is celebrated as Kali Puja in West Bengal.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very Very informative and so nice flow of your writings.

    Enjoyed it


  6. Sushmita De Sarkar Avatar
    Sushmita De Sarkar

    Enjoyed everybit. Keep writing .


  7. Very well written. Both mythological and social sides of Ma Kali and Kalipuja has been touched in a simple yet informative way.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very nicely written Chumki!
    Looking forward to your next blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very well written Chumki! Enjoyed reading this informative yet very naturally written blog! Looking forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

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