This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows devotees of Kali worshipping her by bathing, feeding, clothing and comforting the deity with a gentleness they would extend a small child or honored guest. Widely worshipped by Hindus, Goddess Kali is considered “prime cosmic energy,” transcending time and representing simultaneous creation and destruction.
Hinduism Glossary (Document)
The Hindu Goddess Durga is the source of Goddess Kali; Goddess Kali springs from Durga’s brow on specific occasions to battle demons. It is not clear how Goddess Durga came into being. A Sanskrit text of 700 verses composed between 500 to 400 BCE and known as the Devi Mahatyam of the Markandeya Purana, tells of early gods creating Durga to battle the shape-changing, earth-consuming demon, Mahishasura. In a related account, Durga introduces herself in the Rig Veda text as a form of the eternal Brahman or ultimate reality, and the creator of all the gods.
Kali is her own divinity. For some, Kali is supreme, singular and transcendent of a male counterpart, but for others, her divine husband is known as MahaKala(Shiva). Shiva, prostrate on the ground before her, is seen as instrumental in arresting Kali’s rampage. Kali in turn, puts her foot on his chest, regaining control. Many Hindus regard neither Kali nor Shiva as dominant, but view each as ineffectual without the other.
Kali is black, which absorbs and dissolves all color, and has four arms. One left arm holds the heads of demons, and the other a sword or gallant. The two right hands bless devotees, with one giving boons while the other gestures the shape of a mudra, meaning “fear not.” She wears a necklace of 50 severed heads, each representing a letter in Sanskrit. Her name, meaning “time,” is represented in three eyes symbolizing the past, present and future. Kali devours time and then resumes her formless nature. Despite her horrifying appearance, Kali is considered one of the most loving gods. She appears embodied only to restore balance to a world overcome by evil, while providing blessings and protection to her devotees or children.
Worshippers treat Kali with the kindness they would give to a child or a respected guest. The deity is bathed, fed, clothed, comforted, and given rest and prayers. In Kerala, the southern state of India and the region most associated with Kali worship, the goddess is shown through images and ritual performances, or brought to life through kalams, which are portraits of gods in colorful powders.
KAMANASHISH CHAKRABORTY (Washington Kali Temple): Goddess Kali we consider to be the prime cosmic energy. She is the creator. She is the sustainer. She is the destroyer.
We Hindus believe, our philosophy says that creation comes out of destruction. And, what is created is destroyed again. The prime example would be the seed and the tree and the seed. The seed destroys itself to be able to germinate and sprout, which evolves into a tree, bears fruit, and you destroy the fruit to get to the seed. That's the cycle.
The basic image that we worship -- she has four arms. The right side, two arms that offer fearlessness to her devotees. The left deal out death and destruction.
Her garland is 50 severed demons' heads. Each head represents a letter in the Sanskrit alphabet.
She's standing on her divine husband, Shiva -- with her right foot on his chest; left, on his thigh. Shiva is very white; she is stark black. It's the perfect union of the opposite.
The pujah includes certain rituals. The priest, the Pujari, has to invoke the divine within himself. He has to become the divine to be able to offer to the divine. He has to think of himself as the god and then offer himself to the prayer.
The deities are taken care of with utmost affection, like one would for one's own child.
We prostrate before her who is most gentle, as well as most terrible. We salute her who is the support of the world. We pray, "May the Devi, the Mother, bring forth benefits for all who sing her praises."
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