Who is Kali?
She is like the ocean under the moonlight, from far it is black and scary, but up close, the water is clear and pure.
– Shri Ramakrishna.
Maha Kali Ammaa or Mariamma is the infinite power of the cosmic world. She is known as “Adi Para Shakti” or the “eternally limitless power.” Hence, Her names and forms are endless. Just to name a few, depending on the geographic location in India, this divine Mother may be referred to as Lalita Devi, Mariamma, Dakshineshwar Kali, Big Mother or Madurai Meenakshi.
Mariamman is an ancient form of Maha Kali commonly worshipped by the people of South India. Mariamman also means “man and woman in one,” signifying that She is the all powerful divinity. This Devi is also worshipped as a village Goddess that removes small pox and many other diseases from Her devotees. Devotion and puja is offered on to Her by farmers to eradicate evil and breast their crops.
Mariamma is known for shattering all attachments from Her truly surrendered devotees and teaches them contentment of the mind.
He creates, He preserves, and He destroys.
Can we ever understand why He destroys?
I say to the Divine Mother:
“O Mother, I do not need to understand.
Please give me love for Thy Lotus Feet.”
The aim of human life is to attain bhakti.
As for other things, the Mother knows best.”
About Goddess Kali
Kali is the Goddess of enlightenment or liberation and is the changing aspect of nature that brings things to life or death. She is revered as the Goddess of Time, Creation, Destruction and Power. In spite of her seemingly terrible form, she is also regarded by her devotees as the Mother of the whole Universe and is often seen as a great protector. Known as the celibate Goddess, she practices austerity and renunciation. Her dark complexion represents the womb of the quantum unmanifest from which all creation arises and will eventually dissolve.
Depiction of Goddess Kali
Goddess Kali wears a garland of skulls and a skirt of dismembered arms. She holds a sword and a freshly severed head, dripping blood and seated on a lion. She is endowed with four-arms, holding a sword and blue lotuses, her hair unrestrained, body firm and youthful. Her eyes are red with small fangs sometimes protruding out of her mouth and her tongue is lolling. She is also accompanied by serpents and a jackal while standing on the calm and prostrate Shiva.
Incarnations of Goddess Kali
There are several forms of Kali that are popularly worshiped. Every avatar of goddess Kali has some significance.
- Kali: Slayer of the demons chanda and munda
- Matangi Kali: Violent reincarnation of the Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati.
- Chinamasta: Symbolizes Death and Creation together
- Shamsana Kali: Presides over the affairs of the crematorium
- Bagala Kali: Violent avatar of Kali
- Bhairavi Kali: Harbinger of death
- Tara: Kali in her light blue colour. Often shown naked to the waist and clad in tiger skin.
- Shodashi: Portrayed as the seductress.
- Kamala Kali: A tantric form of the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi.
- Dhumavati: Represented as an antithesis of Lakshmi.
- Dakat Kali: Goddess of dacoits.
- Bhadrakali: Protector of the good
Mythology of Goddess Kali
Durga as Ambika, battling the asura army, is confronted by a pair of Asura generals named Chanda and Munda. Kali emerged from Ambika’s forehead armed with a sword and noose, bearing the strange skull-topped staff, decorated with a garland of skulls and clad in a tiger’s skin, with gaping mouth assuming a fearful form. With her tongue lolling out and deep-sunk reddish eyes she filled the regions of the sky with her roars and falls upon the asuras slaughtering their army. She defeats Chanda and Munda and brings Ambika their heads for which she is known as Chamundeswari.
Unique Offerings to Goddess Kali
Generally, lemon garlands are offered to the Goddess on the occasion of Kali Chaudas festival. Many people wear black clothes and visit Kali temples to offer flowers and coconuts to the deity. People generally offer garlands of 11 lemons, but sometimes garlands have as many as 108 lemons.
Benefits of Worshipping Goddess Kali
Goddess Kali reminds us that good can come out of bad situations. By praying to Her, you can achieve your dreams and aspirations. Where there is sorrow, she brings joy, where there is fear, she dances in courage. She dispels darkness from our lives and exalts the Earth with her transient external elements.