Kalibari at BHEL Bhopal

The Kalibari at BHEL Bhopal.
Soon after the independence, India embarked on its course of planned development as per the prevailing Nehru vision of the era. One of the first heavy power equipment factory Bharat Heavy Electricals (Private) Limited was set up in 1956 at Bhopal. People from all over India were selected on merit basis to develop and run this unique establishment. The planning for first unit of BHEL started and batches of graduate engineers were sent for training in AEI factory, Manchester, UK . They returned in 1960 to be assigned engineering, production, supervisory and management duties. At the same time artisans holding Industrial Training Institute (ITI) diplomas were inducted for specialization training in fabrication, assembling and testing of rotating and static electric machines. Out of around 10,000 employees of the BHEL plant in Bhopal, there were 800 artisans and 200 supervisory staff who were Bengalis.
As is inevitable with the presence of Bengalis, a Bangiya Sanskritik Parishad (BSP) was formed in April 1960, with a library and reading room facilities at BHEL Bhopal. The Kali Puja, Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja started to be organized annually. Around 1963, the government approved allocation of land under the non-trading societies act for religious purposes. A piece of land was allotted in writing under the scheme, near Piplani, to the Bangiya Sanskritik Parishad by the BHEL Management. In 1967 a Kalibari samiti (association) was formed.
The first president, Mr S. N. Ghosh, died in an accident in Calcutta (Kolkata now) which was followed by some more deaths in the Bengali community, raising doubts whether the goddess wanted the temple at all. After one year of non activity, funds started to be raised for construction of Kali Temple from building contractors, material suppliers and other individuals. The efforts of fund raising were no doubt supported by the high ranking officials of the Bengali community in BHEL Bhopal. The renowned Yoga teacher of Bhopal K. M. Ganguly (a government contractor at that time) and his brother D. K. Ganguly built the temple on a no-profit no-loss basis, which took three years to be completed.
Dr Suresh Sharma (Ex-Chief Medical Officer at BHEL) contacted his father-in-law, an MLA in Jaipur Rajasthan, for a suitable sculptor for the idol of goddess Kali. Sri Mahendra Das , a well know sculptor, was contacted for the job who immediately refused. After much convincing Sri Das eventually visited Bhopal and agreed to make the idol of goddess. The entire idol of goddess Kali and God Shiva at her feet was sculpted out of one ‘Makrana’ black marble stone. When sculpting, some gold was found in the stone at the exact location of third eye of the goddess. The idol has the gold as her third eye till date. In 1971 the idol was consecrated with full religious formalities, after being brought to Bhopal from Jaipur on truck loaded with sand. The Diwali night is when the Bengalis celebrate the Kali Puja.
However the Durga Puja at BHEL Kalibari is very popular in Bhopal. The “Bhog” organized on the seventh, eighth and ninth day of the festival (Saptami, Astami and Navami) attracts hoards of local populace. The puja location becomes a meeting place for all the old BHEL Bhopal employees, mostly retired now, and their families. The cultural festivals that are religiously organized by the working committee of the Bangiya Sanskritik Parishad (BSP) go unnoticed as the long separated friends get on to the famous Bengali adda (gossip sessions). The chat sessions are temporarily stopped in the wee hours of morning only to be taken up on the next night. The Kalibari Durga Puja might not have the spunk and glamour of Kolkata pujas, but the socialization makes the event a much looked forward to. Mostly old retired ex-employees of BHEL Bhopal still man the organization. Even the younger Bengali generation that remains in Bhopal has abandoned the traditional “Dhunuchi Naach” of Bengal, going for the more glamorous Dandiya dances organized in recent years in Bhopal.
Still the charm remains, if only in the nostalgic hearts of the ‘not-so-young-now’ generation.

10 thoughts on “Kalibari at BHEL Bhopal”

  1. Yes I do go there for the Bhog. Sometimes I go to the Kalibari in TT Nagar also. Incidentally every community that was engaged by BHEL was allotted land for a temple in that area. Thanks.

  2. hi , i was staying in N4 Piplani, though i m a muslim, but i was a regular visitor of Kalibari.

    i really miss Bhopal and my childhood spent in bhopal.

  3. hi I am MALA MY childhood has th happiest memories of KALIBARI . Igrew up with it . We used to watch bong movies during DURGA POOJA .
    Would like to visit with my children . MY advise to all…..go there to get HER blessing.
    its th most wondrful feeling.

  4. Good to see such kind of a blog.For me it was surprising as well as exciting to remember those good old days of Durga Puja in Bhel KALI BARI.
    Durga Puja had a special importance not only bcoz of the custom but also due to the fact it was one such occassion we used await for throughout the year.Given the fact that during those days the avenues for such a massive gathering were few
    I used to stay in Piplani which was predominantly occupied by bengalis. Hence the preparation for Puja used to start weeks ago and the fun and fervour used to die much after the Puja was over.
    It all seems like a bygone era.
    I would like to take this oppurtunity to extend my best wishes to BSP and all bengalis who are indirectly associated with it for putting up a great great show all these years.

  5. Hi,

    I am excited as well as surprised to see such kind of a blog.Both bcz sitting thousand of miles away from your country and remembering those times is something spectacular.
    Yes BHEL KALI BARI is an integral part our life. So much comes to mind when we remember Durga Puja. It is like reliving those wonderful days. There were many bengalis in the Piplani area where I used to stay. So the preparations started much before the festival and used to die down with series of discussions even after the Puja was over.
    We actually used to await the entire year for these Puja days since such a big gathering was possible only once a year with of course the permissible limits of night outs.
    It seems like a by gone era.
    I congraluate all the Bengalis and BSP for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations.

  6. I, Sri Snehendu Konar, new in Bhopal (working as Quality Analyst at Bhilwara Scribe Pvt. Ltd., a sister concern of HEG Ltd. Mandideep, Bhopal for the last 5 years), visit KALIBARI at different occasions like Durga Puja, Kali Puja etc. Of course there is a different feeling of KOLKATA PUJAs, but here also we get a touch of that tradition and custom. I want to enjoy this year GOLDEN JUBILEE DURGOTSAV with my family at KALIBARI.

  7. Its always a great feeling to see & read about the thing which are part of your life….indeed the bengalies like me who are born & brought in BHEL Bhopal, Kalibari will be a integral part of their childhood memories…..i think Kalibari have not only played a important role in uniting the Bengalis but also in keeping alive the traditions & customs intact in us. I am thankfull to all those peoples, because of whom BSP have taken its shape.

  8. Hi,
    I remember Kali Bari very well…it is a part of my childhood.We used to go there almost every weekend when we were growing up.My father,Mr.P.K.Sengupta is one of the 1st batch of engineers who went to Manchester for 3 years and came to Bhopal in 1960.He was President of BSP for a few years in the 1970s.As you mention,Puja was a blast for 4 days.

  9. Another incident that comes to my mind is a freak accident that occurred during the consecration ceremony. One Mr. Sen was involved in the decoration of the temple during the consecration ceremony slipped from a stool and ultimately died due to injuries sufferred thereof. His widow Mrs. Manju Sen went back to Nagpur, completed her education and returned to join BHEL as a librarian and has since retired, settling down in Bhopal.

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