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Where Kali is a daughter of the house

In this 14-member family, She is treated as the 15th member. So although Friday is the last day of immersion for all Kali idols, there is no question of Her leaving the apartment of the Boses in Karunamoyee Housing Estate. She has a room to herself in their 1,300 sq ft flat and enjoys year-round nitya puja.

The goddess here is lovingly called Dinudi by all members of the family. “This is a shortened form of Dinamayi, an aspect of the Dakshineshwar Kali. She is more of a daughter than a mother to us,” says Niten Kumar Bose, the 71-year-old head of the family.

The family shifted to Salt Lake in 1980. The puja was started in 1984 by Bose, who taught in the department of medicine at SSKM Hospital till retirement. This was a year after his mother, the matriarch of the Bose family of Beleghata, died and none of his brothers agreed to continue the family puja in the temple on the ancestral premises.

The first year, the puja took place before a framed picture of the goddess. There was neither idol nor even a set of utensils for puja. “I had left Beleghata after a dispute and had taken nothing.” So bhog was served on banana leaves placed on a dala made of bamboo shavings.

Three years later, the night before puja it was decided that an idol would be bought. So father and the eldest son set off in search of an idol modelled on the goddess at Dakshineshwar. But all such idols were sold out and exorbitant rates were being quoted for the remaining ones, though they were much smaller. “When we were about to return empty-handed, an old man who was dozing woke up and called me. He took me to a godown in a dark alley where stood an idol looking just like the one we had in Beleghata. And wonder of wonders, he asked for only Rs 85,” Bose says.

But every year during Kali puja henceforth there would be some accident. “One year, I was bitten by a snake while plucking puja flowers downstairs. Another year, I cut my finger. Problems would crop up at immersion time like handcarts not being found for hire. One year, several men together had a tough time moving the clay idol, barely four feet high. And then inexplicably it caught fire,” recalls Sujita, the second daughter of 13 siblings. It was then that the priest suggested that the family install a permanent idol at home as he too was having dreams of the goddess.

Made of touchstone with a marble Shiva, the idol does not look menacing at all. “See, she has that kindly look you expect in a daughter,” says Snigdha, Niten’s wife.

Every morning, the Boses start the day offering a cup of tea to the divine daughter before they take a sip. Rupsa, the three-year-old granddaughter of the house, complains to “Dinu mummum” if she is scolded. “We even keep a slice of chocolate or potato chips for Her if we buy a packet,” smiles Nibedita, the youngest daughter.

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