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.
A seasoned mythologist, Devdutt Pattanaik never disappoints when it comes to Indian scriptures. His writing comes as a breath of fresh air, giving a new perspective to the ancient texts, at a time when several quarters are hell bent on feeding the Sanatan Dharma down our throats!
Coming from the author of Jaya and Sita, 7 Secrets of the Goddess was a tad bit disappointing (specially the overall look of the book – the font size, presentation and cover – which gave a feel of a school textbook). Although Pattanaik makes his point well, we are left wanting.
The book talks of the ‘secrets’ of seven Godesses – Gaia, Kali, Gauri, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Vitthai. Gaia, the Goddess from Greek mythology blends in beautifully in this narrative of the Indian goddesses. Indian customs are explained in an angle never explained before and many traditions are given a logical foundation by the author.
A predominant narrative in the whole book is the equality of male and female forces in the ancient times and how balance tilted towards men as society evolved over time and patriarchy emerged. Pattanaik also champions the cause of gender equality as he talks of the divine feminine.
Like all his books, illustrations form the backbone of the flow of the narrative. In fact, like an excited teenage I almost stop reading the text to explore the images. This time the author chose to share photographs instead of hand-drawn images of the goddesses, though.
Like Shikhandi, Devdutt Pattanaik’s 7 Secrets of the Goddess is an academic read, contrary to his earlier works which narrated stories. Overall, the book added to the pleasure of the Diwali weekend.
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
P.S. – This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme
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