Sunday, 9 April 2017

A Local Guide in Kolkata – Kali Ghat Temple

The train ride to Kolkata was late …. Not surprising …. 3 hours late and I had to bear the heat since I was only on sleeper class …. I bid the Taiwan boys farewell as the train arrive and they board the AC3 and I the sleeper …. This time I was fully prepared to kick whoever was in my seat out to get some sleep on the long 9 hours journey.

Fortunately I did not have to kick anyone …. Got my seat and slept the time away till Kolkata.
Ktan was waiting for me at the platform as I exit the train ….

Long time  no see …. I was in good hands now … a local guest of Ktan and family.
Without Ktan I would have never step foot into the Kali Ghat Temple or seen things in Kolkata on my own. A local guide change a lot of things that you see and observe instead of touring the popular places. Locals playing carom and chess under a bridge every day, pubs or watering hole they call em, downtown luxury pub with a skyline of Kolkata, best local Mughlai cuisine … it is always a privilege and honour to be a guest in another’s humble abode

The Kali Ghat Temple – Kolkata
Kali Ghat Temple - Kolkata
One evening we headed to the famous Kali Ghat temple where rumour has it the finger of Kali the goddess was kept there.  This was a place where pilgrims all over India comes to have a worship, a revered temple …. We got there at 5pm, found a place to check in our shoes or slippers for a fee and got into the long snaking queue. 1 hour 30 minutes in the queue later and they closed the gate into the temple for an evening Puja.

Stuck for another 1 hour 30 minute before the temple reopen the gate and we were shoved into the centre of the temple where everyone was shoving and pushing their way to see this one black statue of Kali. The finger is nowhere to be seen …. Kept somewhere in the temple ground. 3 hours of queuing and you are shove in and out in two minutes.

The experience of the Kali Ghat temple showed me a small glimpse of how extreme both side of Indian people can be. In a holy ground such as a temple people ply the place for blessing or for giving offering but the more famous the temple, the more it attracts the black hearts whom prey upon the kind soul.

The amount of devotees and level of admiration that was shown was beyond believe. Dirty smelly drainage sewage water in the gutters that was the remains of water used to wash the goddess was being dipped as holy water and placed on the forehead like a bindu. In every praying alter there was someone sitting there performing the head poke for the public and money is asked. As if praying without giving money is a sin.

Inside the scared centre of Kali temple a small place barely a meter wide and 3 meters length, people was shoved pass the goddess statue in seconds, shouts and chants are mixed up together with water and dye splashed everywhere. It was the dirtiest temple I have ever seen. Everything was wet … a single incense was burning and dye or as they call it vermilion, was splattered everywhere with so much flower garland thrown and together with it anything that the locals can get their hand on and if it makes sense throw it …. Money of course is the most common.…. If I did not know it was a temple I would have mistaken it as a garbage bin.
A single Hindu was on the floor with his head bowed hands open, devoted and determined to pay his respect and hoping his prayers will be answered …. Around him, people step over him, push him, accidentally kick him as the crowd was shoved pass the goddess … he lasted 10 seconds before being shove away by the waves of the crowd.

Getting out …. Phew … that was one of a kind experience ….
This was the second time Ktan been here … the first was with his grandfather when he was a very small boy and had no will of his own ….
Once is enough for a lifetime Ktan told me
Yep … once is enough …. I agree …

Reaching home, his parent asked with wide eyes … you manage to get into the centre shrine ?? They normally dun allow tourist into the inner circle !!  

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