2. Chinese Kali Temple
In Kolkata, there is a small town called Chinatown in Tangra which got its name as the residents of the area are mostly Chinese. The ethnic Chinese here visit the temple and offer prasad like noodles, chopsuey, etc. Most of the Chinese who live here are devotees of Goddess Kali, or to be precise, of the temple.
The story goes that a 10-year-old boy of the Chinese community was once very ill. Even doctors
could not cure him. His parents had lost hope and lay him down near the tree and prayed for several
nights at a stretch. A miracle happened. The boy got well, and the site became special for all of us.
Most of us are Buddhists and some are Christians, but we are great fans of the Kali temple. We consider it an integral part of the community,” says Ison. The granite walled temple was built 12 years ago. The two stones are still there. Two traditional Kali statues have since been installed. Every Chinese family in Tangra donated money to build the temple and the idols.
At least 2,000 members of the community gather here on Diwali night to witness the puja, participate in pushpanjali and partake of the prasad. While the mantras and the way in which the puja is conducted is completely Hindu, some typical Chinese traditions have crept in. we light tall candles on Kali puja night.
We also get special Chinese incense sticks and light them, so the aroma you get at the temple is
different from what you get at other temples or pandals. It is typically Chinese,” says 70-year-old A K Chung, who owns a leather finishing unit.
Another quaint tradition is that of burning handmade paper to ward off evil spirits. Even the way in
which the pranaam is done before the goddess is typically Chinese. Women of the community are especially attached to the temple. I had prayed to Goddess Kali for a son. On Diwali night, 10 years ago, I prayed for a bonny boy and the next day, Mark was born. So, this idol and the temple is of great importance to my family,” says Michelle Wong, who also has an eightyear-old daughter. The mother-daughter duo visit the temple every evening for prayers despite the fact that they are of Roman Catholic faith.