A tablet of history at Kali temple

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By SUDESHNA BANERJEE
  • Published 9.03.05
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Who built the Kalighat temple? Who did it belong to? The origin of the centuries-old structure that has lent its name to the city and is revered as one of the 51 Hindu pithasthanas is muddled in misconceptions.

Now, the descendants of Sabarna Roy Choudhury, the family that had leased out the three villages to the East India Company, have finally been allowed to script the writing on the wall of the temple?s history.

?Since 1997, we have been requesting the district judges of South 24-Parganas to let us put up a proclamation clarifying the history of the temple. On February 24, an order was passed by the present office-bearer, asking us to choose a spot on the temple premises,? says Gorachand Roy Choudhury, vice-president of Sabarna Roy Choudhury Paribar Parishad.

The district judge, by a Supreme Court order, heads the temple committee that supervises activities at the shrine.

The family has suggested four spots ? back wall on the northern side, the plinth of the same wall, the boundary wall south of the spot of sacrifice, and western side of the flower shop?s ground wall.

?The temple committee has given us a free hand. We are going on Sunday with a mason who will choose a prominent spot without damaging the wall,? says Gorachand Roy Choudhury.

The tale that will be put up on the white stone tablet dates back to 1570, when Kamdeb Gangopadhyay, ?a man of wealth?, and his wife Padmabati started a worship to seek darshan of Kali and a child.

As the lore goes, divine intervention paved the way for the birth of son Laxmikanta Majumdar, founder of the zamindar family, who won a title and largesse from the Mughals and instituted several pujas.

The oracle about the birth will be inscribed on the tablet, along with a statement (in English, Hindi and Bengali) that the construction of the temple was started by Santosh Roy Choudhury and completed in 1809 by his nephew Rajiblochan.

In that day and age, the construction of the temple had cost Rs 30,000.

?It is not that we want to take possession of the temple, but from a historical perspective, it is wrong to regard the Haldars as the owners. They are the priests appointed by us. Till 1800, our ancestor Kalikanta used to unlock the temple doors every day. Even now, the puja at the beginning and the end of the day is held in our name,? asserts Gorachand Roy Choudhury.

Sambhunath Mukherjee, president of the temple committee, confirmed that Kalighat temple?s first family was free to choose a spot for the tablet, but also urged it to ?take more interest? in matters of the shrine.