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Celebration of Kali Puja

Celebration of Kali Puja 49.10/25 Bengal 18th century C.E. Paper

Celebration of Kali Puja 49.10/25 Bengal 18th century C.E. Paper The divergence in the and depictions that Kali denotes across different parts of the subcontinent is largely reflexive of the way in which Kali’s character developed and blended with local traditions and Hindu symbolism. There is a widely held belief among Bengalis that the noted 16th century Tantric scholar, Krishnananda Agamavagisha had once dreamt of Goddess Kali. Agamavagisha was attributed with popularizing the worship of a image of Kali in Bengal and is also believed to have started the oldest Kali puja celebrated with much pomp and pride in Bengal. The Zamindars of later centuries carried forward the tradition and turned it into ostentatious projects to showcase wealth and power. The British living in India during the late 18th and early 19th centuries commissioned such events as records of Indian customs, ceremonies and celebrations. In this painting, we can see the splendid depiction of the festival Kali Puja. Goddess Kali is standing and trampling on the pale body of Shiva under a canopied chawki. Kali is depicted in her ferocious bearing four hands, the left hand holds a severed head, indicating annihilation of evil power, another hand carries the sword (pharsa) of physical extermination, with which she cuts the threads of bondage. Kali is adorned with thick black wavy hair which portrays her ferocious look. In the foreground, in front of her image lie a host of things required in the ritual to appease the goddess which includes food offerings, flowers, shankha, bells, purna kalash with four mukhi (direction) burning diya and a sacrificial fire. A large number of Brahmin devotees are shown standing before her. They are shown with half shaven head, wearing gold ornaments which portray their elite status. One Priest amongst them is prepared to sacrifice a goat on a bedi with a large chopper in his raised hands while another Priest is shown holding the legs. Another Goat is shown tied for a sacrifice. In the background, a sacred banana tree with its fruit is shown which denotes its importance in Vedic rituals.

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