“Diwali” is one of the most anticipated and most observed celebrations in India. There is a sacred quality and spiritual energy to this festivity despite the fact that every state celebrates Diwali differently. There are those who glam up their celebrations, while others just want to party. For some, this celebration serves as a chance to reconnect with loved ones, and for others, it is an opportunity to practise spiritual and religious traditions. Suppose there is one city that celebrates Diwali with all the facets of Indian culture and customs respected while also adding a unique touch with the famous Kali Puja. In that case, it is Kolkata, the city of joy.
Diwali of Kolkata is a magnificent fusion of customs and traditions, with Kali Puja serving as the festival’s centrepiece. It’s not only about igniting firecrackers and diyas. It is about people’s belief in the “victory of good over evil”. Therefore, here we are to take you on a tour of the fascinating world of Kolkata’s Kali Puja and Diwali 2023 celebrations while uncovering the special cultural essence, meaning, and rituals that make it an amazing festival.
This Year in Kolkata: What is the Diwali Date of 2023?
Hindus celebrate Diwali, also called Deepavali, with great zeal and passion. Leaning on the lunar calendar, it usually falls in October or early November. Residents of Kolkata eagerly await the celebration of Diwali, and this year, Diwali date will take place from November 10th to November 15th, 2023. Weeks before the celebration, the city begins to prepare for this magnificent festival.
In Bengal, the Kali Puja of Kolkata, often referred to as Shyama Puja, is celebrated with great fervour during the Diwali holiday. Unlike Diwali festivities in other regions of India, this holiday has a profound historical and cultural importance in the city.
The Significance of Kali Puja: Why Celebrate On Diwali?
Although everyone has their own reasons and beliefs to worship Maa Kali, most importantly, she is honoured because Puja purges one’s negative self-perception and all types of immorality that impede spiritual fulfilment. People offer prayers at the Puja for protection from misfortune and evil in the world, as well as for general happiness, health, prosperity, and peace. They also pray against famine and conflict.
Maa Kali is worshipped in two different forms: the gentle form, known as Shyama Kali, is blue in colour and is worshipped by regular people with families; the angry version, known as Shamshan Kali, is black in colour and is typically respected by the tantric community. The hues of the sky are blue and black, respectively—the hues of black and blue stand for Devi’s boundless abilities and the boundless sky.
The Diwali Looks: What is the well-known dress code?
Bengali females dress in sarees made of various fabrics, including silk, chiffon, and Taant Cotton. Kolkata is the source of the most widely used contemporary saree draping technique. A white cotton sarees with a red border and a big bindi on their forehead are worn on several religious occasions. Men in Kolkata wear dhoti or pyjamas with Kurta, usually made of cotton or silk.
Regarding the Kali Puja of Kolkata and Diwali, Kolkatans take their clothes extremely well. The city is a kaleidoscope of colours during this time of year. Sarees for ladies, in particular, are a popular option in traditional Bengali clothing. Men dress in kurta-pajamas or dhoti-kurta, while women frequently decorate themselves in colourful, intricately woven sarees. Families dress to impress during the celebrations, turning the entire city into a runway.
Origin of Kali Puja: What is the Story Of Fierceful Mother and Her Statue?
According to tradition, there was a disturbance in heaven caused by two demons named Shambhu and Nishambhu. Following a battle that ended in complete defeat for King Indira, he and his army sought safety in the Himalayas. As a result of their pleas for Goddess Durga’s assistance in driving out the demons, Mahakali emerged from Goddess Durga’s forehead.
Even after defeating the demons, Maa Kali was so unstoppable and angry that she started to massacre everyone in her path. The other gods sought Lord Shiva’s assistance because they feared her blood obsession and thought he was the only one who could calm her down. Therefore, while Goddess Kali was in a rage, Lord Shiva positioned himself in her path, causing her to trip and accidentally step on him.
After stepping on her spouse’s chest, realising her mistake quickly, she consoled herself. Goddess Kali’s well-known image, which portrays her stomping on Lord Shiva’s chest and sticking out her tongue, represents the moment when she repents her transgression.
The Famous Kali Puja: Beginning & the Culture In Kolkata?
The Kali puja isn’t an old custom; unlike other Hindu pujas, it doesn’t adhere to the Vedas. Instead, Raja Krishnachandra, the Navadvipa King, popularised it in the 18th century, and his son Ishvarchandra followed suit in the 19th. They ostentatiously performed the Puja, and their later rich family members carried on the tradition.
In Kolkata, the famous Kali Puja is a cultural spectacle and a religious occasion. Extensive decorations, cultural events, and creative manifestations bring the entire city to life. The artists’ creative prowess, demonstrated by the pandals, is undeniable as they go above and beyond to create pieces that are both distinctive and engaging.
Kolkata’s Kali Puja tradition is notable for its dhunuchi dance and way of worshipping Maa Kali. This is a dance that devotees execute while presenting the goddess with a lighted incense burner. Both players and bystanders are enthralled with the captivating sensation brought about by the swirling motions, rhythmic beats of the ancient drum called Dhaak, and the scent of incense.
Another thing to add is “Community Feast”, also called “Bhog”. Devotees and guests are treated to a variety of delicious Bengali cuisine during feasts hosted by temples and community organisations. During the festival, this shared meal is a means of promoting harmony and fraternity.
Diwali and Kali Puja In Kolkata: What is the Date And Time?
The Diwali of Kolkata and Kali Puja is a very important occasion for the people of Kolkata. Therefore, they try to be at their best during the whole process and timing of the Puja. And if we talk about the Diwali date and Kali Puja in 2023, here’s all you need to know:
This year, Kali Puja will be held on Sunday, November 12th, 2023.
Nishita Time is 11:39 p.m. – 12:32 a.m. on November 13th.
The duration will be a total of 53 minutes.
Amavashya Tithi will begin at 2:44 p.m. on November 12th and end at 2:56 on November 13th.
The Main Kali Pujas in Kolkata and Pandal Theme
The ingenuity and skill of Kolkata’s craftspeople are evident in each magnificent Kali Pujas and Diwali of Kolkata. Offering guests a comprehensive experience, the pandal topics span from traditional to modern, spiritual to socio-political. Here are some places as examples:
Exquisite and Opulent Pandals at “Dakshineswar Kali Temple”
One of the most well-known sites of devotion in Kolkata is the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. This place is renowned for its exquisite and opulent pandals. Goddess Kali’s statue is decked out in elaborate jewellery, and the temple’s outdoor areas are converted into an incredibly lovely pandal.
Traditional themed Pandals at “Badamtala Ashar Sangha”:
Known for its exquisite creative pieces and attention to detail, this South Kolkata Kali Puja pandal is well-known. Bengali cultural aspects and traditional themes are frequently at the centre of the pandal subject.
Eye-Catching Pandal at “Kumartuli”:
Kumartuli is a well-known neighbourhood in Kolkata where talented artists create gorgeous statues of various deities. A committee called Kumartuli Sarbojanin Durgotsab arranges an eye-catching pandal during Kali Puja. Every year, a different artistic expression with a consistently striking theme is used.
Creative & Inventive Pandal Themes at “Chetla Agrani Club”:
This club has a reputation for using creative and inventive pandal themes. The pandals created by the Chetla Agrani Club have religious significance and a strong message, often illustrating social justice or environmental problems, which makes Diwali of Kolkata a bit more unique and special to the people.
Pandals at “College Square” with Exquisite Depictions:
At College Square, Kali Puja pandals are renowned for their exquisite depictions of mythology and historical events. It frequently has ornaments and idols that tell historical and Indian epic tales.
Diwali and the famous Kali Puja is not just a festival in Kolkata; it is a tradition to follow, representing their way of life and a duty to fulfil towards Maa Kali. It almost takes almost a month to prepare for the day of Diwali and Kali Puja. During this time, Kolkata becomes a city of grandeur, light, and devotion. A captivating festival that perfectly captures Kolkata’s essence is created by the magnificent pandals, the dexterous idol workmanship, the vibrant clothing, and the cultural performances.