Written by Himadri Paul
Who does not know about Diwali? It is not only celebrated all across India, but also in many countries around the world, and is very famous with the Indian Diaspora. In India, Diwali has wide variety of forms due to local cultures and philosophical leaders. In the eastern part of India, where Durga puja is the dominant festival among the Bengalis, Diwali takes the form of Kali pujo. And with it, comes many unique features that only Kolkata has. Let us look at those important places in and near Kolkata, where unique celebrations of Diwali are seen with unique stories.
Though there are many theories regarding the origin of the city Kolkata, the most widely supported one is that it was previously called Kalikshetra meaning the Abode of Kali. The pronunciation gradually changed to Kalikata as in Ain-i-Akhbari and Calcutta during the British. The Kali temple of Kalighat area in Kolkata has been a one of the 51 Sakti Peeths around the world and is a very old place of worship. The Diwali is a special festival here, even today it has unique celebration where lamb is sacrificed to serve the Goddess. The temple draws a large crowd of Sakti followers from around the world during Diwali for centuries, and even today it is a pride of all Kolkatans.
Rani Rashmoni, wife of a wealthy zamindar and an important personality in the history of reformation in India, sailed a fleet from Kolkata port to reach Varanasi, the most sacred city in Hinduism. That night in a dream, she heard Goddess Kali telling her to drop the anchor at dawn and set up a temple there. So Rani set up a temple at Dakshineshwar, which is the northern suburbs of the city. Even today, it is the most popular place of worship in Kolkata, being situated beside the scenic Hugli river. Ma Kali here is worshipped here as Ma Bhabatarini, and one look at the temple will suggest how beautiful it is.
3)Belur Math and its famous Diwali celebration:
Swami Vivekananda, after becoming a prime devotee of Shri Ramkrishna, who was also the first head-priest at Dakshineshwar temple, founded the Ramkrishna Mission for carrying out philanthropic activities, and training young men for the charity works. Although located in the neighbouring district of Howrah, it is very near to Kolkata, on the opposite bank of Dakshineshwar temple. Diwali is the time when the temple is nicely decorated with special arati performed in the evening. Belur Math preserves the ideals of unity among all religions, as evident in the unique architecture of the monastery. It is also an important place of pilgrimage for devotees all around the world specially at the time of Diwali.
Not far from Kolkata in the Hooghly district are the villages Kamarpukur and Joyrambati situated side by side. Kamarpukur is the birthplace of Shri Ramkrishna, the first head-priest of Dakshineshwar Kali temple and an important religious reformer during the 19th century socio-cultural reforms in Bengal. Joyrambati is the birthplace of Ma Sarada, Shri Ramkrishna’s mother, who is looked upon by the devotees of Shri Ramkrishna as the Holy Mother. The twin pilgrimage hotspots near Kolkata can be covered in a single day.
5)Barasat and Diwali celebration:
Want to have Durga puja like pandal-hopping experience during Diwali? Head to Barasat! The north-eastern corner of the city is set alive during the Kali puja with some amazingly crafted puja pandals. Barasat is well connected by rail and road and is also a very old locality of the city. Localities of Madhyamgram and Dum Dum too boasts of some really good puja parikrama experiences.
Apart from firecrackers, lighting diyas and candles, drawing rangolis, or we Bengalis call it aplonas, and worshipping the advent of Ma Lakshmi or Ma Kali, these were some unique features about Diwali in Kolkata. This year, say no to fireworks, maintain social distancing, and have a happy and safe Diwali.
To read more on the subject: https://www.whatshot.in/kolkata/here-are-5-ways-you-can-enjoy-diwali-in-the-city-of-joy-c-18232#:~:text=Ganga%20Aarti%20At%20Howrah&text=As%20the%20distant%20Howrah%20Bridge,your%20near%20and%20dear%20ones.
To read more interesting articles: https://youngindianrevolution.com/blog-by-youth/