There are always competitions between states. Be it about food, biryani, cricket, movies or festivals, it’s always about who does it better. Diwali is no different. I asked a couple of my Bengali friends residing in Mumbai what they felt about the celebration here, and their instant answer was that Kolkata streets are full of lights at this time. This city has almost no light compared to that. And my friends from Mumbai obviously loved their own traditions, having never been to Kolkata. Well, I’m here to put an end to this competition with the help of something I like to call ‘Logic’.
You see, Diwali is a predominantly North Indian Festival. And West Bengal celebrates Kali Puja, NOT Diwali. Diwali and Kali Puja are used as synonyms sometimes because their time collides. But in reality, they’re about two different parts of our mystic history.
Diwali is the celebration of Rama, Lakshman and Sita coming home after Rama defeated Ravana. It is a celebration of victory and homecoming and of good residing over evil.
Kali Puja, on the other hand, has a more gory story. At a time when Indra (King of Gods) required protection, Durga created Kali from her forehead (her third eye, a source of pure energy). Kali was black because she was made of pure strength, she became the pit of all rage and power. She destroyed the Rakshasa’s that posed a threat to Indra, but in the bloodbath, she lost control and started killing anyone who came her way. As the only way to stop her, Lord Shiva threw himself under her feet and that mistake made her stop. Why would that make her stop? Well, Kali is a form of Parvati (Shiva’s wife). She stuck her tongue out when she realised that she had just stepped on her all-powerful Husband, and her rage dissolved. Kali Puja is the celebration of THAT moment. A celebration of strength and harmony.
A major difference in the two pujas is that Diwali is Lakshmi Puja that happens in the evening while Kali puja follows tantric rituals and takes place at night.
And while Kali Puja is best celebrated with yummy mutton and lots of booze, Diwali is the exact opposite. Diwali requires pure vegetarian foods and loads of sweets like karanji and laddoos.
See, different celebrations, so there’s no need to fight over who celebrates it better, because all your rituals and traditions are aimed towards different Gods and different histories. Though, looking at the menu, I’d say Kali Puja is better.