All this changes when we visit the pandals of Kali puja. The thick air of corruption is pierced with the divine arrow of trance. This trance takes us back into the wild intriguing world of Ma Kali. The clay idols model her presence in her divine feminine form and the kalash with the coconut define her iconic presence. The curiosities that are offered along with it give a hint into a world beyond our imagination.
The crowd slowly gathered for the evening arti to the Goddess kali. There within the pandal she stood in her three forms, Kali Ma of kalighat, Kali Ma of Dakhineshwar and Kali Ma of Tarapith. I drifted into this beautiful world and took a seat at the feet of the Goddess, realizing suddenly that I had no plans to leave in a hurry.
The sun dipped behind the clouds to wake up the night sky and the stage where this celebration would soon commence. The priest lit up the divine light to the Goddess and started with the offerings. In the divine world, the smoke of chillum rose into the air and the sacred syllables of divine chant were slowly heard echo through the heavens. The Goddess is alive, her feet adorned with anklets gracefully descended to the floor as she stepped into this wild world to perform her dance. In rhythmic movement she moved herself, her disheveled hair dancing to her tunes as she raised the dust around herself. In the cremation ground she rules and the lights of the fires dot the floor where she dances and blesses the dead in their last journey home. Bhaktas give up their lives in divine love, sacred blood turns the bali peetha into red and fire forms the path to the world of eternal divinity. Ma Kali brings life to the night with her rhythm, her trance, her intoxicating presence.
Back in our world, the drum beats echoed through the floor as the priests alight their positions on the stage. The Dholak thundered through the pandaal and the drunken fervor raised the intensity of divine intoxication. The rhythm soared and with it the priests went into a trance. Ma Kali's arti began that evening with the joy of celebrating her presence and her victory over all evil. The rhythm thundered on and everyone present there danced to the beat, a wild dance of love and devotion as the priests proceeded with the arti. My feet tapped the floor as I clapped following the beats and my heart danced into the night with the three mothers.
It is the best Kali Ma arti ever! The beats grew stronger and faster and the priests held up the fire, dancing in divine trance as they showed the great mother the flame. Fire was followed by the fan, choury, shankha, mud pots with food offering, sindhur and divine beauty articles in a soop, sweets, bananas, and finally dhoop. The priest moved with the beat, in complete devotion making each offering with love. His steps followed that of the divine mother, his body turned into an expression of divine love and he could no longer contain himself. In divine trance he danced on with the mother culminating the arti into an art of love and divine intoxication.
The evening came to an end and the drumming subsided making us realizing how deafening this trance really was. Kali Ma worship came to a close as man and divinity slowly came out of their spiritual trance.