Throughout the ages, in the depictions of the Hindu Goddess Kali, she has been predominantly portrayed as a violent, primitively savage, angry woman with vengeance. Even though her figure symbolizes “shakti”, that is feminine energy, creativity and fertility, her depictions are mostly fear-invoking. The rituals observed while worshiping this Goddess too are befitting of this fearful aura as the ancient pagan tradition of sacrificing living beings is still very much maintained in her Puja.
Image Credit: abhijna-emuseum.com
Long ago, both humans and animals were sacrificed to the goddess. But with time, the rites got modified by the Brahmins to exclude human sacrifice, and the tradition of slaughtering animals, most commonly, a goat, survives till date. As with time human beings have drifted away from religion as the all abiding faith and have started questioning rituals and traditions through logic, many people could not help but wonder what can be the significance of sacrificing an unsuspecting animal to a Goddess who asks for anything but blood of her children. We do indeed call her “Maa” Kali, so how come a mother wants blood sacrifices?
The blood that we see on her in her depictions is the blood of demons, and as the preserver of life, she is seen destroying those who threaten it. That does not necessarily mean she needs to bathe in blood every day. This is what we literally mean by keeping professional and personal life separate. Imagine a professional sniper getting dead corpses as gifts on her birthday because everybody thought that is what they love to be surrounded by the most! That’s not how it works! Moreover, it is written in the Devi Bhagwatam that only those who meat may sacrifice sinless animals like goats to the Goddess if they wish to. A lot of Brahmins do agree that the ritual of sacrifice can be modified by replacing the goat with a pumpkin and red vermillion mixed with water.
Image Credit: hinduhumanrights.info
The bottom line is, Kali never asked for animal or human sacrifices. According to the ancient texts, she is fond of drinking the blood of the demons and there is little doubt that science books still refer to goats as caprine mammals and not divine criminals. Sacrifices are offerings made by the devotees to the deity, and in case they happen to be non-vegetarians, the ancient texts say that they are allowed to slaughter goats for the purpose. But thanks to the very extroverted kind of non-veggies, now a lot of people think their bloodline is going to get swooshed into thin air if they don’t make this sacrifice while worshiping Kali. Now, that is a whole new level of Paneer samajhke khaa ja!