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Ghosts are an important part of the folklore, and form an integral part of the socio-cultural beliefs of the people living in the geographical and ethno-linguistic region of Bengal, which today consists of the independent nation of Bangladesh, and the Indian states of West Bengal. Fairy tales, both old and new, often use the concept of ghosts. In modern-day Bengali literature, cinema and also in radio & television media, the references to ghosts are often found. There are also many alleged haunted sites in this region. It is believed that the spirits of those who cannot find peace in the afterlife or die unnatural deaths remain on Earth. The common word for ghosts in Bengali is bhoot or bhut (Bengali: ভূত). This word has an alternative meaning: ‘past’ in Bengali. Also the word Pret (Sanskrit) is used in Bengali to mean ghost. In Bengal, ghosts are believed to be the spirit after death of an unsatisfied human being or a soul of a person who dies in unnatural or abnormal circumstances (like murder, suicide or accident). Even it is believed that other animals and creatures can also be turned into ghost after their death.
The Bengali Hindu community celebrates Bhoot Chaturdashi, which normally occurs on the 14th day of Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) at the night before Kali Puja / Dipaboli festival. On this night, Bengalis lit 14 earthen-lamps (choddo pidim) at their homes to appease the spirits of their past 14 generations of ancestors. It is believed that in the night before Kali Puja, the spirits of these ancestors descend upon earth, and these lamps help them find their loving homes. Another popular belief is that Chamunda (a fearsome aspect of Kali) along with 14 other ghostly forms ward off the evil spirits from the house as 14 earthen-lamps are lit at different entrances and dark corners of the rooms. Also, it is customary to consume a dish of 14 types of leafy vegetable (choddo shaak) during Bhoot Chaturdashi, so that evil spirits cannot possess the body.
The burning ghat came up in 1827. In 2010 the central government of India rejuvenated and upgraded the crematorium which cost ₹140 million (US$2.1 million). Rabindranath Tagore was cremated here (north Calcutta burning ghat). There is a Rabindranath Tagore Memorial in the crematorium compound which was beautified in the 2010 project.
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