One of the most powerful holy places in India, Tarapith in West Bengal is home to a Tantric divinity whose worship promises protection and power. William Dalrymple witnesses a dark and bloody ceremony. In Financial Times: [via 3quarksdaily]
Tarapith is regarded as one of the most powerful holy places in India, the abode of the Devi’s Third Eye. Yet despite the reputed power of its presiding deity, compared with the other great pilgrimage sites of the region, Tarapith is little visited. A thin line of pilgrims were queuing to do darshan (pay homage) to the image of the goddess, but although it was approaching the time for the evening arti, the place was still surprisingly empty for such a famous shrine.
The reason for this, I had been told in Calcutta, was that Tarapith had a sinister reputation, notorious for the unsavoury “left-handed” Tantric rituals which are daily performed in the temple. Stranger things still were rumoured to take place in the nearby cremation ground after sunset. Here the goddess was said to live, and at midnight – so Bengalis believe – Tara can be glimpsed in the shadows drinking the blood of the goats slaughtered day after day in an effort to propitiate her anger.