The goddess depicting sexuality, fierceness, anger and wonder, Kali is the epitome of all goddesses. Reckoned to be an avatar of Parvati, the Hindu Goddess, and wife to Lord Shiva, Her wild and ornate power resonates femininity and violence. She is equally ferocious and nurturing. Her feminine energy is divine and carnal.
Like nature, owning Her power of creation like a glorious crown, she is not answerable to anyone.
She is completely nude, save for a garland of flowers, ornate jewelry and a garland of the heads of decapitated men. A beautiful intermingling of contrasting dynamics in a woman who’s feared as a goddess and yet strangely loved and adored, Kali is the true representation of a badass as a Supreme Being.
The name Kali is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Kalika’ which means ‘she who is dark’ or ‘she who is death’. An erotic persona, with lascivious energy revolving around Her, She is one who devours all things. In Tantric cults, where She is worshipped predominantly, eroticism is primarily a way of confronting one’s deepest and darkest fears.
Kali is the quintessential embodiment of Shakti (feminine power); she is bloodthirsty, fearless, monstrous and scary. She is the embodiment of empowerment. Despite Her nakedness, She wins respect in a country that hates any kind of expression of sexuality.
With four arms, she is equally terrifying and magnificent. She is regularly revered and worshipped in West Bengal and other parts of our subcontinent. I have always looked up to Her as a warrior Goddess, a woman who gives me the inspiration to fight louder and more fiercely. She has the audacity to have her tongue out. She is someone who mocks corrupted men and at the same time inspires women to be as ‘oshleel’ (inappropriate), as they want to be. Kali gives me hope, encourages me to forget the laws of morality prescribed for women (by men) and live life independently.
Kali is the true representation of a badass as a Supreme Being.
I have grown up in a household where my grandmother was an ardent devotee of Maa Kali, and I listened to all kinds of stories regarding her transformation. Some stories depicted Her to be a woman, who after killing Daruka was on the hunt and literally killed innocent humans and had to be stopped. However, I choose to believe the story of how She was summoned to kill Raktabija (blood-seed) who was a demon and kept on multiplying as each drop of his blood touched the ground. So, Kali unfurled Her tongue and, spread it entirely on the battlefield, and killed the demon by swallowing his blood.
Throughout my life, I have worshipped Goddess Durga, burst firecrackers during Diwali (which we Bengalis celebrate by praying to Goddess Kali), and been awed at the hypocrisy of people who dared to show reverence towards such Goddesses and still be misogynists. These men and women ask you to not touch the idols when you are bleeding during your periods, even though Kali is the embodiment of Naari Shakti (female power).
She gives meaning to whatever She identifies Herself to be.
The feral and ephemeral nature of the dark-skinned Goddess is meant to be a direct hit at racist and misogynistic sentiments. Her nudity and ferociousness bleed confidence and wisdom, She is the Goddess of death and nurtures humanity by being a Mother. She is shown to break down the shells of Her coy and demure self, Parvati, and become a force to be reckoned with. The male patriarchal retelling of this mythology/folklore might make Her into some inappropriate Goddess, but Her complexity proves how Gods and Goddesses are prone to almost mortal imperfections.
Since my childhood, I have pretended to be Her. After all, who doesn’t dream of becoming a woman even remotely as badass as Her? The goddess Kali slays demons and wears their decapitated heads as ornaments. She breathes life into being a feminist Goddess; She is unapologetic and unladylike. She is truly the embodiment of unadulterated freedom, power, and chaos. Like nature, owning Her power of creation like a glorious crown, she is not answerable to anyone.
Goddess Kali’s femininity is not meant to be questioned. She gives meaning to whatever She identifies Herself to be. She is raw and cannot be tamed. We all need to learn from Her, and shatter the shackles of patriarchy, and wear the badges of femininity as an honor. After all, Kali resides within each and every one of us, you just need to let Her free.
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