Those who scour cultural books and heritage sites never believe the difference between what we see.
It is all part of our faith, a piece of faith intermingled with our religious doctrines, sometimes allowing or even allowing us to go down a different philosophical path. One of the best examples of this fusion of harmony is in India’s only Chinatown in Kolkata. Chinese Kali Bari of Tangra tells the story of how two different cultural theologies converge in this sacred temple. Located in the heart of India’s only Chinatown, Tangra, The Chinese Kali Mandir acts as a liaison between the rapidly dwindling Chinese Community and the natives, who would otherwise rarely interact.
Most devotees at this temple are Chinese who reside in Tangra. However, Bengalis of that area also visit the temple to offer their prayers alongside the Chinese devotees. About 70 years ago, local Hindus prayed to a stone under a tree adorned with sindur and bell leaves. According to the plot, a terminally
ill boy whose doctors abandoned all hopes of recovery miraculously recovered. In front of this stone building, one of the local Hindus is said to have prayed to the goddess Kali.
Gradually, the weak faith turned into faith, and the Chinese community gathered to build the temple. The two black stones are still present in the granite-walled temple, which houses two Kali idols. Ma Kali is the most misunderstood of all Hindu goddesses, although often considered the most powerful. Kali’s dark and ferocious form is certainly terrifying and difficult to
understand. Unless she squints behind her veil of sensational images of her.Because she is also the goddess of conservation, Kali is revered as the guardian of nature. Kali stands calmly on Shiva and her figure represents the preservation of Mother Nature. Her loose, long black hair represents natural freedom from civilization. Another Hindu god, Lord Shiva, the goddess’ consort can also be worshipped there. The rituals are a brew of Hindu and Chinese traditions.While the hymns and proceedings are performed in accordance with Hindu beliefs, the devout light tall candles and Chinese incense sticks.
The Chinese worshippers know which one is Maa Kali’s red garland and Lord Shiva’s white garland as reported by Mr Bobby, one of the Bengali helpers at the Temple. The Chinese devotees instead of rotating the incense sticks like the natives, do it back and forth thrice. At the Chinese temple, both black
(Hindu) incense sticks and red(Chinese ) incense sticks are offered. The caretaker of the Chinese Kali Mandir, Mr John, came back from America and
has been the in-charge of the temple for more than 21 years now. He cleans the temple, the idols, lights the candles, puts the holy water and the biscuits, sweets and flowers. Earlier, he was a Buddhist, however after he became the caretaker of the temple he has become one of the few Chinese Hindus of
One of the many reasons why The Chinese Kali Mandir is unique and famous is because of its unique prasad. The Bengalis and the Chinese of Chinatown have merged to form a cultural potpourri of sorts. So much so that as an offering, the temple serves noodles and chop-suey. Because of the Chinese devotees, the Chinese also pray on Kali puja day. Those who worship the Goddess Kali have abstained from eating beef. “We’ve started worshipping Kali, so we’ve stopped eating beef,” they say. We have taken their Chinese
food, so it’s only fair that they take our gods. As a result of its uniqueness, Chinatown and The Chinese Kali Mandir has taught us that Faith has no Religion.
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