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Debugging the myth of Maa Kali

Published: 
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Fearsome images of the goddess Kali have scared people off from learning more about her role in Hinduism.

Kali—just the mention of that name evokes fear in many people—some Hindus and non-Hindus worldwide. But what exactly has led to this reaction of fear? According to Pandit Veda Persad, spiritual leader of the Ramjit and Basso Persad Hindu Temple in St Helena, “There are a lot of misconceptions about the Hindu goddess, Mother Kali, who is an incarnation of Goddess Durga.” 

The Hindu Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and is believed to be the power behind the work of creation, preservation, and destruction of the world.

In an attempt to clear up misconceptions about the goddess, the T&T Yatra Committee (TTYC), formerly the Arouca Yatra Committee, will host a Kali Yatra from September 6 to 13. 

“The theme for the Yatra is Debugging The Myth,” said founder of the TTYC, Rick Ragoonanan, “And for five nights, Pandit Deodath Vyas will journey through pages of the Devi Mahatmyam, bringing to an end the many misconceptions of Kali Maa.”

But what are the misconceptions that mean the mere utterance of the name Kali evokes such negative responses? Could it be that many have corrupted the worship or are just acting based on assumption or could it be due to the goddess’ fierce and destructive images? 

Mother Kali, whose name comes from the Hindi meaning “time” as well as “black,” is often seen in images as having four hands. In one hand she holds a sword-like weapon and in another, the head of a demon. The other hand holds a trishul and the fourth holds a bowl of blood. Her blood-stained tongue (probably the point from which a lot of the misconceptions stem) sticks out of her mouth while her red eyes are wide open. The mother wears a necklace of skulls and draped around her body as a skirt, she wears the hands of demons. In most images, the powerful mother appears to be stepping on the chest of her consort, Shiva. 

According to Persad, “The goddess is the remover of all negativity and when she takes the form Kali, it is for a specific purpose and that is to remove negativity.” 

Persad explained the image of Mother Kali’s blood-stained tongue. “Raktabeej, a great demon who wanted to conquer the earth and destroy everything, was creating havoc. He was granted the boon by Brahma that no man could kill him and where any drop of his blood spilled another demon would manifest.” 

The pandit explained that as a result Mother Kali had to remove the heads of the demons and she consumed the blood to prevent it from spilling thus preventing more demons from manifesting. “Rakta is the seed of negativity and represents negative thoughts. There is the idea that she wants blood and animal sacrifice, but by consuming the blood it represents the removal of negativity.”

The founder of the TTYC said in addition to dispelling the myths about Kali, the purpose of the Yatra is to challenge pandits. 

He said, “People are afraid and do not know much about Mother Kali because pandits are not teaching us about her. I am here to challenge the pandits to come out and teach us.” 

How will this Yatra benefit the country? Ragoonanan related, “According to Hinduism we are living in the dark ages known as Kalyug. It is evident that we live in such a time and Maa Kali is the Devi of this age. She can venture where other deities cannot at this time and she is the one to remove negativity.”

MORE INFO

The Yatra will be held at the following temples:

Kali Puja

Date: September 6

Time: 10 am

Venue: Shiva Ashta Siddhi Temple, Arima Old Road, Arouca

Officiating Pandit: Baba Larry

Devotional Scriptural Reading on Mother Kali

Date: September 8 – 9

Time: 7 pm

Venue: Ramjit & Basso Persad Temple, Mohepath Trace, St Helena

Officiating Pandit: Veda Persad

Devotional Scriptural Reading on Mother Kali

Date: September 10 – 12 

Time: 7 pm

Venue: Calcutta No 2 Hindu Temple, Freeport

Officiating Pandits: Sunil Ragbirsingh (September 10 and 12), Sathyam Parmanan (September 11)

Kali Puja 

Date: September 13 

Time: 6 am

Venue: Yatra & Vesarjan from Freeport to Valencia River

Officiating Pandit: Baba Jai.

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