Like Sabarimala, This Kolkata Kali Pujo Restricts Women’s Entry

Kali Puja -- which falls around Diwali in Bengal -- is scheduled to be held on November 6 this year.

2 min read
Picture for representational purpose.

By Binita Das

While you rage about the controversy surrounding Kerala's Sabarimala temple, did you also know that a 34-year-old Kali Puja in Bengal also doesn't allow women to step inside the marquee premises?

Our 34-year-old Panchamunda Kali Puja follows tantra (an ancient esoteric Hindu tradition). Tantric priests from Tarapith have been conducting the Puja every year. We had questioned our ancestors, but they said a female is not even allowed to touch anything,
Gangaram Shaw, executive body member of the Chetla Pradip Sangha, told IANS.

Kali Puja -- which falls around Diwali in Bengal -- is scheduled to be held on November 6 this year.

Shaw mentioned that the restriction on entry has been there ever since the Puja was first held. Another committee member, Manoj Ghosh, said: "As organisers, we want women to be included in the Puja but this is not our Puja as we have to follow whatever the tantrics say."

However, a priest of Tarapith temple (265 km from Kolkata), situated on the banks of the Dwarka River in Birbhum district, expressed immense surprise. Tarapith is famous for its tantric practices.

I am one of the aged priests here and I know there are no such rules that prevent the entry of women. Our temple is open for all and I am wondering who are those priests talking about such restrictions
Mulmantra Roy (81), Tarapith priest

But the puja committee simply plead helplessness over bringing about any change with regard to the restriction.

"This is particularly a patriarchy-induced condition. Most of the Shakti Pujas are done following the tantra rituals and such practice is not prevalent anywhere. Finally, if the tantric has so many problems, then why are they worshipping the female goddess?" commented Indologist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri .

The women in the area however seem least bothered about the restrictions as they don't want to break the age-old tradition.

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