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Kali Pooja
Kali Pooja is one of the major festivals for people in West Bengal and they celebrate the occasion with much delight and zeal. Just as people in North India light lamps to honour Lakshmi Ma during Lakshmi Pooja, people in West Bengal celebrate Kali Pooja by lighting lamps in honour of Goddess Kali. Houses are decorated and elaborate Rangoli pattern are drawn in front of houses and courtyard. As Goddess Kali is regarded as the Goddess to be feared Bengalis leave no stone unturned in carrying out a special Pooja for her. Through Pooja people seek happiness, prosperity and protection against hardships.

According to legends, Shambhu and Nishambhu, the demon kings grew in force and pose a challenge to Indra, King of Gods and his Kingdom of Heaven. Gods sought protection from Mahamaya Durga, the Goddess of Shakti or Power. At this stage Goddess Kali was born from Durga's forehead as Kal Bhoi Nashini to save heaven and earth from the growing cruelty of the demons.

After slaughtering the demons, Kali made a garland of their heads and wore it around her neck. In the bloodbath, she lost control and started killing anyone who came her way. There was chaos all around. To stop her from doing this Lord Shiva threw him under her feet. Shocked at this sight, Kali stuck out her tongue in astonishment and put an end to her killing spree. The well-known picture of Kali Ma shown with her tongue hanging out actually depicts the moment when she steps on Lord Shiva and repents.

That momentous day is celebrated ever since as Kali Pooja. Performing the Pooja with faith devotees seek protection against drought and war and blessings of general happiness, health and prosperity. Kali Pooja is celebrated on the Amavasya or the no moon night in the Hindu month of Kartik (October/November). This date of Kali Pooja coincides with Diwali, the North Indian New Year or the Festivals of Lights.

Dasshera is an important festival of the Hindus. Dasshera also symbolises the triumph of warrior goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Dussehra is also known as Vijaya Dasami, because of the victory of Ram over Ravana. On this day in Satya Yug, Ram (the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), killed the great demon and king of Lanka, Ravana. Puranas also opined that in this day warrior Goddess Durga defeated and killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura.

The tenth day is devoted to the worship of goddess Durga, who occupies a special position. 'Shakti'. Beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess are worshipped in elaborate pandals for nine days and on the ninth day, these are carried out in procession for immersion (visarjan) in a river or pond.

There are different forms of the Goddess and in each form she emerges as the winner. She is the one who helps us during the time of need and praying to her in different forms gives us the courage to face any situation. Only through her blessing can we gain material as well as spiritual comfort. She is the Shakti that Brahma uses to create the world.