One of the most revered deities in eastern India is goddess Kali and the people from Bengal are her most ardent devotees. The 150-year old Dakshineswar temple, on the banks of river Hooghly in Kolkata stands witness to the unwavering faith of people in the ultimate goddess of Shakti.
A few clicks on Google will tell you the legends related to how this famous temple came into being. It was built by Rani Rashmoni in the middle of 19th century after, as it is believed, she had a vision of the Adi Parashakti in the form of goddess Kali who urged the queen to establish her statue by the river Ganges, where she would accept the queen’s prayers and offerings. As fascinating as the story may be, the reason why I am writing about this temple is because of the peace and serenity that I experienced there. The temple is built in an open and sprawling court yard, which I now know is close to 20 acres in size. Loud speakers played devotional hymns, surprisingly, at non deafening decibels lending a peaceful aura to the entire temple. Despite the size of the campus and the number of visitors that it receives every day, the entire campus was very well maintained and clean. The clamor of the vendors selling “Prasad” outside the main court yard was perhaps the only thing which was breaching the peaceful atmosphere.
People queued up patiently outside the main sanctum which houses the statue of goddess Kali. Luckily we were called upon to join a fresh queue being formed which led us into the temple within few minutes. After we had offered prayers to goddess Kali we went through the twelve Shiva temples, representing the twelve “Jyotirlingams”, on one side of the courtyard. We had an unobstructed view of River Hooghly, which flows parallel to this array of temples, only a few meters away.
Our “Darshan” got over within a few minutes without the elbowing and jostling which has become a common feature in most of the popular places of worship. Perhaps we were lucky to visit the temple at a relatively less crowded hour. Isn’t this the way worship should be, peaceful and calm instead of all the pushing and shoving.