In the misty and dreary evenings of Autumn, the universal categories of cognition of the human mind think of ghosts. There is something about the closing in of the season, when winter is about to set in and the sun goes weak in the sky, tilting towards the horizon more and more, the humans have felt vulnerable and without protection for let us not forget the Sun has been the prime God for many societies across the world. The Biharis rush to salute the setting sun as if in a dirge, immersing themselves in waters to imbibe the literal immersion of the sun in the sky. This is the chhat puja. The Halloween is the American Indians’ management of fear of ghosts and the Bengalis celebrate the choddo shaak, translated as fourteen kinds of leaves. They also light fourteen lamps, fourteen being the double of seven and seven being a number to describe limits, as in the seven heavens, seven generations and so on. Kali Pujo, which coincides with the dark moon of autumn is basically a worship of the not quite humans. The blood thirsty Goddess is associated with cremation grounds, dead bodies, killed lives and blood flows. The lamps are lit to scare the ghosts away and so are the noisy firecrackers. Light and noise are both intrinsic to Diwali and to Kali Pujo for both are instruments of driving out those who we do not want or fear harm from.
In the above context, Diwali seems to be a step ahead; here life gets celebrated. Great food, new clothes, new account books and ostentation seem to be in line of the Protestant Ethics; celebrate more of that which is threatened. I think that not Kali Pujo but Diwali is the anomaly with its overdoing of the life bit. The Goddess of Prosperity is worshipped and not the Goddess of Death notwithstanding that it is the dark moon of the autumn when the ghosts are the most powerful and considering that the season of the burning off of the stubble and waiting for yet another crop cycle to begin with the break out at the next spring whenever that comes.