|Kalighat Kali Temple, 1887. en.wikipedia.org|
|Kalighat kali Temple.expatsinindia.org|
If there is one small village that has the most important historical and relevant connotation directly linked to the British colonialism it is the village of Kalighat in West Bengal. In the colonial era, the village Kalighat was strategically an important place in terms of safety, location, security access to water transportation, good anchorage, etc. When the British bought the village, subsequently they established a town, that over a period of time, grew into a big city. The East India company named it Calcutta, the name derived from Kalighat. During their hey days, it became the largest, prosperous and most important city in the British Empire next to London. It was the Capital of British India.
The Kalighat Temple is an old one and the construction of the present temple began in 1809. Built by the Brahmin family of Sabarna Roy Choudhury, Zamindari Brahmin family of Barisha, this temple is dedicated Goddess Kali. The
original temple was a small hut built by King Manasingha in the early 16th century. Considered as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas, this 200 year old temple is being visited by thousands of people from different parts of India.
Lord Shiva doing Rudra Tandava(violent dance).www.coroflot.com
An interesting aspect of this unique temple is unlike other Kali temples, the stone image of the Goddess in this temple is altogether different. Devised by two saints named Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. The image has three big eyes, a long protruding tongue made of gold, four hands made of gold too. Of these, two hands holding the a scimitar and a severed head of the Asura king 'Shumbha', the other two hands show the Abhaya and Varada mudras or blessings. This divine image is a symbolic of righteous life one ought to follow. The scimitar represents ''Divine Knowledge'' with which one can get rid of 'ego' symbolized by Asura. The hands showing the abhaya and varada mudras symbolize her ''Divine Protection'' and blessing to any person who trusts her and worships her with abiding faith.
According to legend Lord Shiva, known as the king of dancer in rage, was performing ''Rudra Tandava'' upon the news of the death of his divine consort Sati (who was reborn as Parvati) who jumped into the Agni Kunda (sacrificial fire) in Daksha's Yajna and gave up her life. Carrying Sati's body, Shiva is said to have performed the Sandhya Tandava and to stop this menace Lord Vishnu sliced Goddess Sati with his Chakra. The body parts of the Goddess fell in several places where Lord Shiva traveled with the corpse and these places became prominent kali temples and Hindu pilgrimage centers. The toes of the right foot of Dakshayani or Sati fell in the place occupied by present Kalighat. People saw luminant ray of light coming from the Bhagirathi (Hoogley river) river bed and further investigation revealed the presence of a piece of stone in the form of human toe along with Swayambu Lingam (a phallic symbol) of Nakuleshwar Bhairav nearby. People began worshiping Kaali in the middle of thick jungle. A sage by the name of Chowranga Giri is associated with the worship of Kaali (the suburb of Kolkata Chowringee is named after the sage).
Deepawali and Navaratri are important festivals observed here with religious fervor and during these festive days, the temple is beautifully decorated with flowers and thousands of oil lamps, a tradition that has been followed for decades.