One of the most commonly worshipped Hindu goddesses, and in Hindu thinking one of the most powerful manifestations of the female aspects of the divine. She is often described as a different version of the mother goddess Durga. According to Hindu myth Kali emerged from Durga on a field of battle in order tocombat demons. Kali is depicted in artwork and other im- A family makes an offering to Kali, a powerful goddess in Hindu mythology. Although the myth is filled with bloody rituals and imagery, Kali is a much loved deity in Hindu society. © MACDUFF EVERTON/ CORBIS agery in various unsettling ways. She has either blue or black skin (kali means black in Sanskrit) and is either naked or wearing the skin of a tiger. Her face is depicted as one who is battle-crazed, or drunk with blood; she might have an upraised hand holding a bloody dagger or be wearing a necklace of human skulls. Some Kali worshippers have repeated these blood rituals. In ancient times human sacrifices were allegedly dedicated to Kali and, in more recent times, a sect known as the Thugs murdered people by strangling as a form of worship before robbing their victims. Blood sacrifices to Kali continue, although these days they are of goats or buffalo rather than humans. The greatest of all Kali temples is at Kalighat in Kolkata (Calcutta). Despite the bloody images and rituals, Kali is among the most beloved of Hindu deities, and believers often reverently chant praises to Kali-Ma, or mother Kali. Hindu theology suggests that she represents both the difficulties of life and the fear of death itself, two factors that must be faced and overcome if one wants to grow spiritually. SEE ALSO: Durga; Shanti; Shiva

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