A Glimpse Into The History And Legends of Sree Bhadrakali Temple Kalighat
Kalighat temple is dedicated to the worship of Divine Mother BhadraKali. It is situated in southern part of Kolkata, the capital city of the Indian state of West Bengal. King Manasingha erected the original structure as a small temple in the 16th century. The family of Sabarna Roy Chowdhury constructed the present structure of the temple in 1809.
Center of historical and religious significance
The Kalighat Temple is one of the most important of the 51 Shakti Peeths in India. The temple has an immense historical significance. This bhadrakali mandir has a high religious value among the followers of Shaktidharma or the doctrine of power. The temple is highly significance to the Shaktism cult of the Hindu religion. It is a revered Shakti Peeth, where people from every community, irrespective of sectarian divide come to offer obeisance to the Divine Mother. It is a holy shrine frequented by people from every part of India. This temple is also associated with the tantric cult of worship. Chowranga Giri, a renowned monk from the Dasanami sect of Shaktism had worshipped Goddess Kali in this temple for a long time.
History of idol worship
The presiding deity is Divine Mother sree bhadrakali. The Goddess Kali is worshipped in different incarnations in the temple. The deity, Divine Mother Kali is revered as the Goddess beyond all forms. The deity is worshipped as the source of all forms of energy. Hence, Goddess Bhadrakali is considered as Adi Shakti and the slayer of evil. The presiding is revered as the head of the ten Mahavidyas and devourer of time. The devotees have a humanly relation with the Goddess, very much like the relation of a human child and its mother.
Appearance of the idol
The idol of the Goddess in the Kalighat temple is rather unique. It is very different from the other idols worshipped across Bengal. The idol is made of touchstone and gold, which was made by two saints, Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. The idol in the Kalighat Temple features three eyes, a protruding tongue and four hands. The tongue and hands are made of solid gold. The Goddess is depicted as holding a scimitar in her upper left hand and the lower left hand is shown as holding the severed head of a demon.
Other shrines in the temple
There are several other shrines inside the temple complex. Sosthi Tala is a rectangular altar, which is about one meter high and consists of a tree. Three stones are laid on the altar, which signify Goddesses Sasthi, Sitala and Mangal Chandi. This shrine is also called Monosha Tala. Natmondir is a large, roofed platform that lies adjacent to the main temple. Harkath Tala is a sacrifice altar meant for animal sacrifices. Besides, a Radha-Krishna Temple is also present in the temple premises.
Methods of worship
The Divine Mother is worshipped according to the tantric cult. The worship of the goddess in the temple follows Kalikula or family of Kali, method of worship. This aspect of worship is prevalent in northern and eastern India. Kalikula method of worship follows the ideal that the Divine Mother is the source of wisdom and path to attain Moksha or liberation. The Shaktas, followers of Shaktidharma believe that Goddess Kali is the Divine Mother who protects her children with fierceness from all evil. The Goddess is also regarded to be the source of all beauty. Worshipping involves chanting of sacred mantras, offering of flowers and animal sacrifices.
Important religious occasions
The most important religious occasion in the temple is Kali Puja, also known as Shyama Puja. It is celebrated on the first moonless night of the Hindu calendar month of Kartik. Special events are held in the temple. Hordes of devotees throng the temple to seek the blessings of the Goddess. The Godhead of the Kalighat temple is worshiped at night according to tantric rituals and mantras. The Goddess is offered offerings of red hibiscus flowers and food. Animal sacrifices also held to please the Goddess.
Another important occasion is the Mahashivaratri, which is celebrated with enormous enthusiasm. Mahashivaratri is a religious festival that celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva with his consort Parvati, an incarnation of Goddess Kali. Lord Shiva is worshipped by bathing the Shiva Lingam with water, milk and honey. Offerings of white flowers are made to Lord Shiva. Since, Goddess Kali is considered to be the wife of Lord Shiva, Mahashivaratri is celebrated with great zeal in the Kalighat Temple.
An important pilgrimage
Kalighat is an important pilgrimage site for the Hindus, especially for the followers of the Shakti cult of Hinduism. Since it is one of the most important Shakti Peeths of India, hordes of devotees visit the temple every day to offer obeisance and seek the blessings of the Divine Mother.