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Friday, 18 June 2010

Visit to Goddess Kali Temple in Kolkata

As soon as we got off the car, few pundits surrounded us, offering us their service by praying for us for a fee. What special way would they pray for me that Mata Kali would listen to them instead of direct communication with me? I shooed them away, preferring a direct interview with Goddess Kali.

There were narrow lanes leading to Kali temple. Every shop wanted us to deposit our foot-wear with them. I was not willing to walk bare foot down those lanes. There was too much dirt, filth, used flowers, junk and water at some places. I ignored all the shop keepers until I reached the entrance of the temple. Here was this lady selling big garland of flowers, holding in her hand like some heavy weight champion. I bought the garland from her for just Rs10 and deposited my foot wear with her.

Bare footed, I walked inside the temple, through the dirty path. My feet itched at every step. I could feel the crushing of flowers under my feet, the juice sticking under my soles, the floor was slippery and I held on to stone-wall for support, taking smaller steps, trying to maintain my balance. The garland was a bit too long and although I had folded it around my arm, it dangled under my knee. One flower-seller wanted me to buy some more flowers from him. He said that the flowers garland that I was carrying had touched the ground and that I needed to discard it. He kept repeating, telling me the Goddess Kali would be upset with my carelessness if I offered her ‘dirty’ flowers that had touched the ground, but I ignored him. I walked toward the idol and pundit grabbed the garland from my hand and held my arm. He pulled me in front of the idol and asked me to give some money. Why was he asking me for money? If I wanted to donate some cash, I would do so without anybody forcing me. I looked at the idol of Goddess Kali, a large black stone with large white eyes, surrounded by flowers and brocade, flashy clothes, I closed my eyes, looking for a image of my Lord within my mind and offered my silent prayers and suddenly I was pushed aside to make way for new devotees. The place was too crowded, sweat clinged to me and it felt as if the message was that if I was not willing to part with my money then it was better that I moved aside. Was Goddess Kali angry with me for not parting with my cash? In crowded place, I don’t normally open my purse. I reasoned out that Goddess Kali would understand and would not punish me for my stingy behavior. I walked with the guilt towards exit.

Guilt disturbed me. A thought lingered that the punishment would be severe. I was afraid. I prayed again. I turned back and walked to the sweet shop. I bought 100 grams pedas. I spoke to Goddess Kali telling her that I had spent the money by buying the sweets from a person who was trying to earn a living. I had given him the business of Rs20. Surely Goddess Kali should be happy with me. The Rs20 that I had not inserted into her charity box was instead put into box of the person who was working hard. I was being fair. Goddess Kali should be pleased with my intelligent spending.

Guilt free, I popped the pedas into my mouth, one by one.

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