Worshipping the Dark Goddess Kali
At the core of worshipping the Dark Goddess is the need to be genuine and honest in our love, reverence and honour of Kali who is more appreciative of human authenticity than elaborate ritual. If we are not genuine in our love and respect for this goddess, then we should not worship her as she has the capacity to discern the innermost corners of our souls to fathom whether we are true or false. So despite her dark, fearful appearance, Goddess Kali wants us to love her – truly and deeply. And to believe in her powerful capacity for protection, guidance and the provision of the answers to our prayers.
For those new to Shakti worship, it is also a good idea to learn about her, read about her and get to know her as it is only when we truly know our gods and goddesses that our devotion becomes more spiritually enhanced. Faith in her existence and respect for her power are crucial to her worship. Likewise, respect, faith and honesty are the cornerstones of Kali worship.
Persons can worship Goddess Kali either at home or in a Kali temple – the location is of less importance than one’s sincerity and faith.
Pre- Prayer Preparation:
Before approaching your altar, it is necessary for you to have a bath and to refrain from the consumption of meat and alcohol and sexual activity for the day. Some persons find it best to pray at their Kali altar before having breakfast too. If you cannot avoid meat, alcohol and sex for the day, then you should not go to her altar.
Time for Worship
The best time for Kali worship is early in the morning before sunrise or late in the night before or at midnight.
Worship at Home
Preparing an altar to the Goddess is a good idea, but alternatively, one can just create a sacred space which is private. The altar/sacred space can comprise a clean table, shelf or bookshelf in a room where you do not eat, drink alcohol or have sex. The main supplies needed are:
- A photograph or statue (“murti”) of the Goddess
- A light (this can take the form of a “diya” which is a small/medium clay or brass lamp with a wick soaked in oil or ghee; a tea candle or a small candle)
- A glass of water (the glass should be new)
- A cup of water for sprinkling
- Red Flowers (The hibiscus flower is supposed to be the flower associated with Kali worship)
- Fruit (these should be washed before and not eaten from until afterwards)
- Rudraksha Beads (if you will be chanting a mantra 108 times). 108 is the number associated with the Goddess Kali, and these beads are similar to rosary beads used by Catholics.
- Altar Ornaments (these can take the form of artificial flowers, small statues etc.)
- Altar Cloths ( the colours associated with Kali are red, yellow and black)
Alternative Worship Rituals
Should your prayers require a more forceful, powerful intervention of the Goddess to defend or save you or create a solution to a problem, offerings of white rum and cigarettes may be placed on the altar, in addition to the other offerings above. These offerings invoke a stronger and darker form of Goddess Kali which is necessary to resolve the problem that you bring before her.
This stronger, darker and destructive form of the Goddess does not offer blessings and guidance; rather, she intervenes in a situation as the Dark, Destructive Mother who brings chaos and death and destruction in her wake.
Blood sacrifices (animal sacrifices) ae also offered to Goddess Kali in this form as blood creates power. The animals sacrificed may comprise a black chicken, goat, sheep or pig.
Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe slowly and evenly, shutting out and disconnecting yourself from the world
- Bring your hands together at the chest and offer a greeting to the Goddess
- Open your eyes.
- Place the cup of water in front of the deity.
- Pick up the light with your right hand and circle the altar with it three times in a clockwise direction. (this is called offering “arti”)
- Circle the deity with the incense in the same manner.
- Spray the perfume three times around the deity in clockwise manner.
- With your right hand, sprinkle water in a clockwise direction to cool the atmosphere.
- Offer fruit offerings to the deity using your right hand. You can also opt to circle the goddess with the bowl/plate of fruit before setting it on the altar
- Offer flowers to the deity using your right hand.
- Place your palms together again and pray to the Dark Mother for whatever you want. Talk to her as if she was sitting next to you. Tell her your problems, concerns, goals, obstacles in life. Tell her what bothers you, what you want in life and ask for her guidance, advice and blessing.
- End your prayer by bringing your hands together at the chest.
Kali Pujas at Home or in the Temple
A “puja” is a ceremonial ritual to honour the Goddess and Kali worshippers perform puja both during difficult life circumstances and times of ease. Kali puja in homes involves meditation and chanting in prepared sacred spaces. The altar setting is the same with similar altar offerings. It is believed that the images of the deity are filled with divine energy and are important for making direct contact with the goddess. Small bowls of rice, spring water, uncooked rice, salt and red flowers without stems are placed on a platter or in a basket placed in front of Kali’s image. The objects on the altar help to make contact with the goddess. Worshippers also offer gifts such as red wine, beer, tobacco, melon and honey and place a diya/votive candle on the altar as well as objects that represent personal devotion to Kali.
Mental and Spiritual Preparation
It is important for you to be mentally and spiritually prepared for this puja so as to attract positive energy into the environment. Focus on the altar and its items is central to this state of mind as the puja begins with meditation on the goddess or on any of her forms, and on acceptance of the goddess’ blessings to gain strength on the spiritual path.
Performing Kali Puja
After a period of meditation, salt water is purify the sacred space and worshippers may recite mantras to invoke the Goddess and use the uncooked rice to draw a triangle with a point facing Kali’s image. The four elements are then invoked as worshippers recite mantras to invoke the Goddess and perform purification and flower offerings.
Concluding Stages of Kali Puja
The next stages of Kali puja include chanting of mantras, a gratitude meditation, prayers and a consecration of the alcohol and cigarette and honey offerings. After the sacrificial ritual, Kali puja ends with a prayer and sharing of blessed food known as paarsad ( a sweet dish made from flour, milk, butter and sugar).
It is important however, that whatever the form of Kali worship, we must always have faith, respect and sincerity in all of our devotions.