In the famous Kali temple of Patiala, offering alcohol and meat is a daily ritual
Patiala: Satnam, a resident of Sangrur district in Punjab, is happy that his son has been granted permanent residence (PR) in Canada. With a carton of alcohol in his hand, he bows to the Hindu deity Kali and thanks her for his son getting the PR.
“I had promised to offer alcohol to the goddess if my wish was granted. My divine mother listened to me and that is why I am here today,” he said.
Offering alcohol is a daily ritual at Patiala’s famous Kali Temple on the city’s lower shopping street. This temple was built by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, the grandfather of former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in 1936.
Mahua Moitra’s remarks and the dispute over Kali
Controversy has erupted over what can and cannot be offered to Kali due to comments from Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mahua Moitra. Speaking at a recent event, the MP said she had every right, as an ‘individual, to imagine Goddess Kali as a meat-eating, booze-accepting goddess’ because every no one has the right to worship a god or goddess in his own way. . An FIR has also been registered against the politician.
His remarks came in response to a question regarding the controversy surrounding the poster for Leena Manimekalai’s documentary film. Kaliwhich depicts the Hindu deity smoking a cigarette with the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ+ community behind her.
While the TMC distanced itself from Moitra’s comments, fellow parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor lent its support, saying Moitra was being attacked for saying what every Hindu knows. TMC supporters also came out to support the MP.
History of Patiala Kali Temple
According to the Patiala Kali Temple website, the Maharaja was inspired to build the temple and bring the six foot tall statues of Kali and Paawan Jyot (sacred flame) after seeing the famous Kali Temple in Kolkata, West Bengal.
The center of the temple complex also houses a much older temple dedicated to Raj Rajeshwariji, which also has six other smaller temples of other gods and goddesses.
The temple priests said Thread that Raj Rajeswari is the Kul Devi (clan deity) of the royal Patiala family. They consider it auspicious to worship in the temple before undertaking any important activity.
Navneet Tandon, the administrative officer of the temple, said Thread that Maharaja Narender Singh established the Raj Rajeshwari temple in 1845 by bringing the sacred flame from the famous Jawalaji temple in Himachal Pradesh.
Later, the Kali temple appeared, which quickly became the center of astha (faith) for millions of devotees, not only from Punjab but also from other parts of northern India, Tandon added.
Alcohol is eliminated, other offers sold
Alcohol isn’t the only thing offered to Kali at the temple. The website says worshipers donate goats, chickens, mustard oil, dal (lentils), candies, coconuts, bracelets and even chunnis (scarves).
The temple priests said Thread that they ask devotees not to leave any alcohol behind after worshiping at the temple. However, when the liquor is left behind, it is immediately dumped at the “Hawan Kund” at the beginning of the temple compound.
Countless bottles of liquor are offered at Kali Temple, the number supposedly reaching the thousands, especially on Saturdays, which is considered to be Kali’s auspicious day. Almost two lakh devotees visit the temple every week and almost half of them on Saturdays only.
Crowds ran into several thousand dollars during Navratri, the nine-night Hindu festival observed in honor of Goddess Durga and her various avatars. Kali is one such avatar.
While the alcohol is removed, several offerings are also sold. According to Tandon, the temple earned Rs 72 lakh last year just by selling chickens and goats donated by devotees.
It was only this year that the temple management – chaired by Deputy Commissioner Patiala – awarded an annual contract for the sale of empty liquor bottles, worth Rs 2.7 lakh.
Temple authorities have strict rules for offerings of alcohol. Devotees can only drink alcohol inside Kali and Bhairon temples. There are posters pasted outside the six remaining temples in the complex – Raj Rajeshwari, Radha-Krishna, Surya Dev, Hanuman, Shiva and Ganesha – prohibiting the carrying of alcohol inside these temples.
Why alcohol, goats are offered at the temple
Thread spoke to temple priest Kalikant Jha to understand why alcohol and goats/chickens are offered at the temple.
“Kali Mata’s Pooja Vidhi-Vidhan is complex and different,” he explained, “Meuse (Meat), Machli (fish), Madeira (alcohol) and Madhur (sweet) are among the practices used for the worship of Mata.
“Previously the bAli (sacrifice) of goats also took place here, but this practice has been discontinued. Yet non-vegetarian prasad is also offered daily to Mata by devotees and priests,” Jha added.
He said the deity is worshiped as asmashan Kali, a death goddess, for a reason.
Jha explained that according to Hindu mythology, there was a demon by the name of Raktabija. He was blessed so that each time a drop of his blood fell on the ground, his strength increased many times over. His blood would create thousands more like him.
“Raktabija was causing a lot of trouble with people and gods, so the gods decided to work together and combined all their divine energy and channeled it into Goddess Parvati, who then took Kali’s avatar to destroy Raktabija ,” added Jha.
“Kali, in her ferocious form, wiped out Raktabija’s massive army. She then punched Raktabija but before her blood spilled onto the floor, she stuck out her huge tongue and devoured all the blood, making sure not a single drop fell on the floor. In this way Raktabija was destroyed,” Jha said.
Since then, Kali has been worshiped in this form, Jha said.
Jha said alcoholic and non-vegetarian drinks are associated with Kali Temple for a reason. “Goddess Parvati could never eliminate the demons within her”Vaishno“Form (pure/holy),” he said. “She had to face the ‘avatar’ of Kali, otherwise how could she have devoured the demon’s blood, eliminated him and swallowed his entire army? »
“She had to take Roudra form in order to eliminate an evil force, which should matter more than anything else,” Jha added.
He said that many people are vegetarians and abstainers, but even they drink small drops of the alcohol they offer to the temple as “bhog.”