Just as the Durga Puja hangovers take root, Kali Puja and Diwali knock at our doorsteps. Now, keeping up with our Bengali saying – “Baro maashe tero parbon’ (13 festivals in 12 months), we the Bengalis push the boat out with enthusiasm on “Bhoot Chaturdoshi” – the day just before “Kali Puja”.
Looking back, during my childhood I used to listen to some or the other spooky stories from my grandparent. As a child instead of getting scared, there used to be a strange interest that gradually grew within me. I had a weird habit of knowing things from the root. That was the time when I had a glimpse of this “bhoot chaturdoshi” concept. “Glimpse” in the true sense as I had the privilege to meet one of them in person. I am not kidding at all.
It was “Bhoot Chaturdoshi”, as we Bengalis call it to be a “Halloween Day” in West Bengal. It isn’t what the western nations celebrate. But, still the feeling is as scarier as the concept of Halloween. If you want to get the feel of our “Bhoot Chaturdoshi”, then take a call on the new moon night popularly known as “Amavasya” – particularly the day before Kali Puja. This was the day when I was engrossed in listening to the spooky stories from my grandparent. No wonder, I could feel as if I was surrounded by the uncanny and creepy creatures around me. I am talking about the time not spent in the city but in a rural area – where you can’t avoid listening to the creepy stories.
As the concept deals with dreadful spirits and ghosts, it is obvious you will feel them in and around you. As narrated by my grandparent Bhoot Chaturdoshi has various perceptions in it. It is a tale of a new form of Goddess Kali and her horrendous spirits. I still remember, my grandparents used to talk about ‘Dakini’ and ‘Jogini’ (the scary ghosts of Goddess Chamunda). It is believed that in order to defend against these ghosts and other uncanny things, we lit up lamps in our house. In fact the concept of ‘Kali Puja’ and ‘Diwali’ is about the “victory of good over evil”.
We call the day just before ‘Kali Puja’ to be scary as the ghosts and spirits wander here and there. As heard from my grandparent, to ward off the evil spirits earlier people used to burn the fuel lanterns and ‘diyas’ at the periphery of the houses with the idea of stopping the evils from taking entry to the houses. Even the lamps and diyas were lit inside the house, in fact the houses were beautifully decorated by the lamps.
So, the story goes like this, when I was absorbed in listening to the ghost tales of “bhoot chaturdoshi”, suddenly I found 2/3 scary bodies wandering about in that area. Initially I thought I was one of the characters in the story, where I actually met the spirits. Somewhat it looked so, but as I was dumbfounded and turned deaf-ear to what my grand mom was saying, with a sudden scream from her I just regained myself. They were none but humans decked up in the forms of spirit. In fact this was the approach practised during those days. Even, today also some of the rural areas celebrate the “bhoot chaturdoshi” day in the same style.
To mark this day – just a night before ‘Kali Puja’, we all lit 14 lamps or diyas at our home and believe that the lights would keep at bay the evil spirits. To celebrate this day traditionally, we the Bengalis buy fourteen types of leafy vegetables or “choddo shaak”. We cook this for our lunch and eat the same to fight off the evil spirits.
As soon as we are over with ‘Bhoot Chaturdoshi’ comes the most powerful festival/the festival of lights ‘Kali Puja/Diwali’. Maa (Mother/Goddess) Kali is an embodiment of power (‘shakti’). She is believed to be the other form of Goddess Durga. Kali Maa is worshipped on the “new moon night”.
Wishing all my friends A Happy ‘Kali Puja’ and ‘Diwali’...
HAVE A GREAT TIME AHEAD AND THANK YOU FOR VISITING — Cheers JAAZ🙂 #JOYGURU \m/