Kali Puja, also known as Shyama Puja, is a Hindu festival dedicated to Goddess Kali. It is observed on a new moon day during the five-day-long Diwali festival. In most of the country, Lakshmi Puja is celebrated on Amavasya Tithi during Diwali. The festival is more popular in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, and Assam.
Myths and Story
As per the Kalikula sect of Shaktism, the supreme divine Mother goddess Mahakali took 10 manifestations to kill evils on the Earth, which are collectively known as Dasa Mahavidyas. Each Mahavidya has a day of incarnation in the Hindu calendar of 12 months. Out of those 10 Mahavidyas, the last goddess is Kamalatmika, whose day of incarnation is celebrated as Kamalatmika Jayanti, falls on the day of Diwali. She is often recognized as ‘Tantrik Lakshmi’. In the rest of the Indian subcontinent, the day is associated with the god Sri Rama or Sri Krishna. Since both of them are the primary incarnation of Vishnu, most Indians celebrate Diwali as a Vaishnavite oriented festival and thus worship the Goddess Lakshmi, the companion of Lord Mahavishnu is the supreme mother Goddess.
However, in Eastern & Northeastern India, the Kalikuli Shakta theology being dominant, the origin goddess of Kamalatmika, Mahakali is worshipped. Thus, the day eventually becomes Kali puja.
The celebration of Kali Puja is not an antique one. It was substantially unknown before the 16th century. Famous sage Krisnananda Agambagish first started the puja. Also, a late 17th-century holy text Kalika mangal kavya by Balram specifies an annual festival devoted to Kali. In Bengal during the 18th century, King Krishnachandra of Krishnanagar also made this puja popular. The Puja gained notoriety in the 19th century, with Krishanachandra’s grandson Ishvarchandra and the Bengali elite rich landowners started patronizing the festival on a huge scale. Along with Durga Puja, Kali Puja is the biggest festival in Bengal and Assam.