While large parts of India celebrate the return of Ram to Ayodhya on Diwali, in Bengal (and other eastern States of India) we worship Maa Kali, the goddess of destruction. Bengal is the land of the ‘Shakto’ (those who worship Shakti), thus Kali Puja is a gala affair in the State – specially at the Shaktipeeths in the State.
Bhramari Debi Temple
The Bhramari Debi Temple, located on the banks of Teesta river at Bodaganj in Jalpaiguri district, is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths. The left leg of Sati fell at this place, the devotees believe.
Bhramari Debi is a form of Shakti. She is worshipped as Kali. She is accompanied by her Bhairava (popularly known as Lord Ishwara). Her chakra (shaped in the form of lotus) is believed to have healing powers.
Those who are well-versed in the Hindu mythology would know that after Daksha publicly rebuked Shiva at his famous ‘yagna’ Sati could not take the insult of her husband and immolated herself in the fire of the ‘yagna’. Shocked and numbed by the death of his beloved wife, Shiva carried the body of Sati in his arms and began his ‘tandava nritya’ (dance of destruction). The gods trembled in fear and sought Vishnu’s help. He shot an arrow and split Sati’s body into 51 parts which fell all over India.
Of all places in the country, Bengal has the highest number of Shaktipeeths, as many as 13.
Devi Chaudhurani Mandir
Those who are familiar with Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s works would know that Devi Chaudhurani, the bandit queen of the famous ‘Sanyasi Movement’ period in the 19th century, had established the Kali temple near Gosala More of Denguajhar.
It is believed that Devi Chaudhurani used to visit this temple regularly. The famous Kali Puja here is still held under the centuries-old huge banyan tree. The Kali puja is now organised by the Devi Chaudhurani temple committee.
The Kali Puja at this temple is a major attraction for the people of Jalpaiguri. Thousands of people flock to this temple to witness the puja at midnight.
These places are easily accessible by road, rail, and air. The nearest town is Jalpaiguri. The nearest railway station is Jalpaiguri Road. The nearest airport is Bagdogra.
Niyogi Bari Durga Puja is as old as the family, say some. There are documental proofs that the Pujo existed even 250 years ago. Once celebrated with pomp and glamour at Patgram (Mymensingh district in current Bangladesh), the Pujo moved to Kolkata in 1947 and thereafter to Jalpaiguri in 1967.
The Durga protima at home this year
Following true Bangal customs and traditions, the idol breaks away from conventional structure seen at other households. Ganesh here resides with Saraswati instead of Lakshmi. The construction of the idol begins on Janmashtami with Kathamo pujo (instead of Rath Yatra). Unlike others, bhog here is mithai and not khichudi.
Durga Pujo at Niyogi Bari begins on Protipad, the day after Mahalaya, with the Chandir Mangal ghot sthapan. Chandi path continues for the next 10 days. On Panchami, Manasha is worshipped at the mandap, and Durga idol is brought in on Shashthi. Family members decorate the idol with gold ornaments and garlands, following which the priest begins Bodhon.
Another specialty of the pujo here is that on Ashtami night, Kali is also worshipped. Animal sacrifice has stopped and pumpkins are sacrificed instead. On Nabami, a special “ghol” is prepared for offering Maa Durga. It is called Durga Doi. When the pujo was based in Patgram, a tradition of “Aleek nimantran” was followed by the family. Anyone visiting the house during Pujo, was given free food.
Dashami bisharjan is also a gala affair. Earlier, Maa Durga was immersed through the middle of two boats – the tradition had to be stopped due to receding water level in the local river. Following immersion, Prastar Bandhan puja is held at the mandap, where all family members come together for Bijoya and mishtimukh.
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