Serampore Sen Bari Chinnamasta Puja
Ground Report | New Delhi: Chinnamasta Kali Puja; If one walks in the lanes of the town of Serampore, the person is bound to feel intrigued after seeing its rich culture and history. Its history goes back to the Dutch era long before the British colonial times. The place is also famous as it houses the burial tomb of Sir Robert Clive.
Besides these, another attraction that shows the religious confluence of the town is the worship of Goddess Chinnamasta is a temple at Sen Bari or the Buri Maa Puja Bari as it is widely known in Serampore in Hoogly District in West Bengal.
The interesting part is the worship of Maa Chinnamasta is done in very secretive ways by tantra practitioners but here the temple is part of a house and the Puja is done in a very grand fashion by one of the family members of the house with a lot of worshippers coming in to offer their prayers to the Goddess. The Bonedi Bari celebrates Durga Puja every year that more is 350 years old.
To know about the rituals and history behind this Puja we have to rewind time to the Vedic age. The worship of Goddess Chinnamasta forms part of Dash Mahavidyas and is a form of the different types of Shakti Puja.
There are various forms of Shakti Puja prevalent across India and beyond, in various Shakti Peeths where Tantra Sadhana is practised. The Shakti Peeths are scattered across the Indian Subcontinent in different places from Northern India to Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, some parts of Southern Tibet in China, and parts of southern Pakistan.
The actual number of Shakti Peeths is controversial. In common, there are 51 peeths whereas in the Brahmanda Purana it’s found that there are 64 Shakti Peethas in total.
Among all the Shakti Pujas that are prevalent, the worship of Maha Kali is the most common. Over the Years, Kali Puja has transformed from being only prevalent in Samshan ghats or in crematoriums done by tantra Sadhaks or practitioners to also being celebrated in neighbourhoods and also people’s houses the forms of Diwali, credit goes mostly to bhajans sung by Sri Ramkumar Chattopadhyay and other artists. This transformation has taken over a period of centuries.
But the interesting fact is the practice of Shakti Pujas known as the Dash Mahavidhyas are not so popular among the common masses other than the Kali Puja. The general public often infuses the thoughts of Tantra with occult or very secretive practices.
‘Chinnamasta Puja forms part of the Dasha Mahavidyas and holds a major part in the Tantra Sadhana. In the Tantrik pantheon, the sixth Great Cosmic Wisdom is Chinnamasta, the goddess without ahead. This particularity suggests her capacity of transcending the mind and its functions so that in the end she achieves the ecstatic reabsorption in the Supreme Void of the Absolute Divine Consciousness. The worship of Maa Chinna Masta is done mainly by those who are Kundalini Yoga practitioners.
Our Hindu scriptures mention the lotus with thousand petals as the Sahasrara Chakra which is the highest chakra out of the 7 main chakras in the Kundalini Yoga System and if anyone manages to open the Sahasrara chakra then they will be able to go past the materialistic world and transcend to the rhythm of the universal mother. At the end of the journey, it is the union of oneself with the universe. Everything is the play of Shiva and Shakti which if you translate goes as the play of the masculine and feminine force of nature. We all are alive due to that. The balance is holding us here as we speak.’, says Abhishek Sen (Chiku), the Priest of the temple on being asked about the history of the Puja.
On the formation of the temple and what caught his attraction to this specific Puja, he takes us back to the time of his childhood. “Since childhood, I was drawn to painting, sculpting, and idol worship. Our family has the century-old tradition of celebrating Durga Puja on the ground in front of the house. As months passed by in the calendar, Durga Puja arrived in the months of September followed by Lakshmi Puja and Kali Puja. There was a common fear among the general mass and elders of the house of worshipping the Goddess Kali.
And it was said that the Puja couldn’t be done due to the fact that the Goddess was supposed to roam around in Samshans in extreme forms, wearing a garland made of the human skull, blood smeared all over the body, and without any cover and that the worship of this goddess would transform the house to a cremation ground. But this alienation was what intrigued me more as a child and I started to make small clay idols and worshipped the Goddess. That’s how my journey began.”
The turning point in his life arrived in the year 2002.
“Not only Kali Puja, but I also worship every form of Shakti, from Maa Durga to Annapurna, Dakshina Kali to Maa Chinnamasta, and our Samshan Kali. The holy mother arranges her puja through me. In the year 2002, some days before the Kali Puja a strange incident occurred. I had a dream and there I was painting the idol of the mother. And as I was putting on the blue coat, it was turning pitch black.
The morning before the day of the Kali Puja I woke up and started working. As I was painting, my aunt and my mother came into the room. The blue paint turned into a pitch-black colour as I was putting on the coating paint. And from that day onwards, black paint is applied every year before the Puja. Now coming to another part, another interesting event took place. Here in the temple, you will see that our Boro Maa who is an incarnation of the Dakshina Kali is standing cross-legged, and beneath her feet lies the lotus with thousand petals instead of Lord Shiva. This is also a result of my dreams in my childhood days.”
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