Kali Puja, celebrated on new moon day during Diwali, is a Hindu festival dedicated to Goddess Kali. New moon day is regarded as the most important day of Diwali. Most people in India worship Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali Amavasya. However, people in West Bengal, Orissa and Assam worship Goddess Kali on the new moon day.
Generally, Diwali Puja and Kali Puja occur on the same day, but during some years Kali Puja may occur one day before Diwali Puja. The day when Amavasya prevails during midnight is auspicious for Kali Puja, whereas the day when Amavasya prevails during Pradosh is preferred for Lakshmi Puja.
In West Bengal, Orissa and Assam, the full moon day in lunar month Ashwin is considered as the most important day to worship Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi Puja performed on Purnima Tithi in the month of Ashwin is called Kojagara Puja and is more popularly known as Bengal Lakshmi Puja.
Kali Puja is also known by the name Shyama Puja.
History of Kali Puja:
The Kali Puja is held on the night of the New Moon in the Bengali month of Kartik. It is said that Maharaja Krishnan Chandra of Nawadweep gave an order that everyone, in his domain should worship Kali. According to history the present form of the image of Kali, is due to a dream
The Mythology of Kali Puja:
Goddess Kali appears in various forms as an embodiment of Shakti, the eternal energy and cosmic power. She is also the Goddess of Tantrism or the Indian Black Magic. . Using the powerful imagery of paintings, sculptures, and writings, the celebration of Kali Puja explores and illumines the rich meanings of feminine divinity. Legend has it that Ma Kali was the Goddess of dacoits. But Ma Kali is the Goddess of common man the middle-class people, or the daily wage earner too.
The image of Kali usually shows her foot on Lord Shiva's chest, a severed head in one hand, her sword in the other, and wearing a garland of skulls. The actual puja takes place at midnight on the day of the new moon.
The main purpose of the kali puja is to seek the help of the goddess in destroying evil - both in the outside world and within us. Kali Puja is done to diminish the ego and all negative tendencies that hinder spiritual progress and material prosperity.
The rituals of Kali puja are very plain and simple. Elaborate cooking or preparation is not needed to satisfy Ma Kali. Even 'soma ras' or pure wine is offered as a 'bhog' to Ma Kali.
The main puja starts at midnight and stretches till dawn. Ma Kali is worshipped amidst the bursting of crackers and display of fireworks.