kalighat

The main event, the most intense experience yet in India, and seared into my mind.

Kalighat is one of the oldest parts of Calcutta and one of the most densely populated. Go to the kalighat wiki for the beta.

As they say above, the Hindus coming to the Kali Temple on Tuesdays and Saturdays can be a hundred times other days. Today is Wednesday, quieter in theory.

Here’s the district, the Temple in the centre

The ride in the general direction

Park a few blocks away and walk. Yup, quiet

The Kali temple, dating from the 1600’s

Another view, from a semi-private pond

The outside was ringed with smaller shrines to Kali

And other deities

Debjani handed me off to this guy, beside the monkey god, Hanuman

In we went

No cameras beyond this point.

Inside there were two main buildings, one with two long chaotic line-ups of Hindus, nearly all women, feeding up steps to small doorway, Kali within. The fellow I was handed off to led me to gated off steps immediately in front of the doorway. As the two lines converged it was like a piraña feeding frenzy for a glimpse at Kali, no one getting even a second to see inside before being pushed aside. It was difficult to see through, but I saw a very strange image of a surprisingly abstract graphic of three eyes, below. Someone got a camera in, because I found this on the web. It was unreal, very powerful

The second was a small stone building. This was where the rubber hit the road. They sacrifice one ox and 20 goats to Kali here a day. As recently as 100 years ago they sacrificed criminals, and sometimes children, to her here.

There were two stone upright stone U‘s, topped in a polished metal, mounted over a blood and sand filled trough. I was standing at the rear of the room, about 3 feet from the rear of the U‘s. In front were a few families going through a ceremony I didn’t understand and Debjani wouldn’t come in, so I was alone.

Shortly they carried in a panicked and screaming goat, a flower garland around its neck, threaded a pin through the U at its neck so it was pinned. The position was that I was looking directly into its eyes from a few feet away. A man with a machete sized but curved blade, after some moments, cut its head off. I was committed to seeing this through and absorbed it intimately. Otherwise why am I on this world ride.

I’ll spare the 3 or 4 seconds of following detail, but it was enlightening. Whether we want to go through that encounter with death, through its eyes, is another thing. In retrospect tonight, I did.

Behind the temple is the channel that 100’s of years ago was the original flow of the Ganges

This child was being ‘anointed’ from the water.

I was reading about an Indian, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a social reformer who tried to stop the Hindu practice of sati, where a widow volunteered or was coerced or forced to burn alive, as normal practice, on her passed husband’s funeral pyre. Common themes about sacrifice, death, and hindu reincarnation

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