The Goddess Kali of Kolkata by Shoma A. Chatterji & Photographs By: Nilanjan BasuHardcover (Edition: 2006)
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The history of the city of Kolkata can never be complete without reference to the Kali temples of the city. The city is doted with temples of Kali, big and small, famous and anonymous, historical and contemporised. Visited by devotees and atheists, religious-minded people and agnostics, Bengalis and non-Bengalis, local, national and international tourists and pilgrims.
The name that comes to the mind when we mention the city is that of Kalighat. It is one of the most famous places of pilgrimage, located in the heart of Kolkata's souther end. Kalighat owes its fame to the famous Kali temple her, founded and established by an erstwhile zamindar family of Kolkata, known as the Sabarno Raychoudhuris, in 1809.
In the Puranas, Kali, 'the back one' emerges from Durga's forehead to destroy the demons, Chanda and Munda and tfore earns the appellation Chamunda. The direct linkages of Tantra with Kali, the black goddess, in its popular form in West Bengal is traced back to Tarapeeth, a Sakta centre in Birbhum district of West Bengal and to Bamakshyapa, a guru at Tarapeeth, said to be a contemporary of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. Legend in Bengal insists that it was the third eye of Sati - the eye of knowledge located on her forehead - that fell at Tarapeeth. With culture in a state of constant flux, the character and role of Kali, the goddess and Kali temples in Kolkata have undergone major transformations. Though popular expectations move around a decline in the consecration of the cultic image of Kali in terms of worship, this has not happened in Kolkata rather the consecration of belief in Kali has multiplied tremendously.
About the Author :
Shoma A. Chatterji, based in Calcutta since 1995, is a noted author, freelance journalist and film critic writing for over 20 years. Her areas of specialization are cinema, gender, television, personalities, children, human rights, literature and relationships. She conducts workshops on writing journalism and film appreciation in Mumbai and Kolkata several times a year. She won a commendation for her 'Outstanding Contribution to Women's Issues' from the Eve's Weekly Women Journalist Award in 1988; the National Award for Best Film Critic Award from the Bengal Film Journalists' Association in 1998 and National Award for the Best Book on Cinema in 2003 for the book Parama and Other Outsiders - the Cinema of Aparna Sen. She holds two master's degrees, one in Economics and the other in Education from the University of Mumbai. She also holds a post-graduate diploma in Journalism (First Class First) from Mumbai's Somaiya Institute of Journalism and Mass Communication. She has presented papers at national and international seminars on cinema and gender and has been on the international jury at several international film festivals across Europe. She is a founder member of FIPRESCI-India, an international organization of film critics based in Munich. She has authored four books on gender, four film biographies, two film analyses, three collections of short fiction in English and one collection of Cinema articles in Bengali.
Acknowledgements v Preface vii 1. Kolkata - the City 1 2. The Naming of the City 14 3. Some Noted Kali Temples in Kolkata 26 4. Kali - The Black Goddess 53 5. The Kali Temple of Kalighat 76 6. The Culture of Kali in Kolkata 95 Bibliography 125 Index 131
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