In Kolkata, the celebration of Kali Puja is considered to be the second most important festival after Durga Puja.
Dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, it is celebrated every year on the new day of Hindu month Ashwin in Bengal.
Interestingly on the occasion of Diwali, the entire India worships goddess Lakshmi- the Hindu goddess of wealth while the Bengalis, Assamese and Oriyas adore Goddess Kali.
In Kolkata, Kali puja, the festival of lights is celebrated with immense fun and mirth.
Like Durga Puja, the goddess is worshipped by the people in this city in both their homes as well by the local organizers in pandals (marquee).
A lot of rituals is associated with the worship of goddess Kali, who is worshiped at night with Tantric rites and mantras.
She is offered red hibiscus flowers, animal blood in a skull, sweets, rice and lentils, fish and meat.
It is prescribed that a worshipper should meditate throughout the night until dawn.
Homes may also practise rites in the Brahmanical (mainstream Hindu-style, non-Tantric) tradition with ritual dressing of Kali in her form as Adya Shakti Kali.
Animals are ritually sacrificed on Kali Puja day and offered to the goddess though the practice is now less in vogue. Animal rights groups have protested too this ritual of sacrifice.
A celebration of Kali Puja in Kolkata is also held in large cremation grounds where she is believed to dwell.
Kalighat temple and Dakshineswar Kali Temple are two of the famous Kali temples in the city and on this day the priests worship goddess Kali in different ways in this two temples.
In Kalighat temple, Kali is worshipped as Lakshmi on the day of Kali Puja, reflecting an essence of Vaishnava Haldars on Kali worship.
Thousands of devotees flock to the temple on this day.
On the other hand in Dakshineswar Kali Temple, where famous Kali devotee Sri Sri Ramakrishna was a priest, the celebrations have changed little from his times.
Chetla area in South Kolkata hosts few of the popular pujas in the city.
Revellers goes pandal hopping even on Kali Pujas with theme based decorations setting in this festival as well.
In households, people lights diyas and decorates homes with chains of lights to mark the occasion.
Many Bengali homes also hosts Lakshmi Puja on this day.
--IBNS (Posted on 02-11-2013)