Kali (the Black One) is the terrifying aspect of the great mother goddess and the Shakti of Shiva. The personification of death and destruction, she is said to spring from the forehead of Goddess Durga, another aspect of the goddess, when she becomes angry. Kali is usually depicted with blood-red eyes, four arms and with her tongue lolling out of her mouth in search of blood. She is naked, but for a girdle of severed heads or hands, a necklace of skulls and a tiger skin.
Like Lord Shiva, Kali has a third eye in her forehead. In one hand she holds a weapon, in another she holds the severed head of a giant, while her remaining two hands, in contrast are raised in blessing. Her devotees regard her as a loving mother goddess who can destroy death as well as demons. One myth tells how a monster, Raktabhija, was destroying the world. Each time he was wounded, 1000 demons sprang from each drop of his blood. The gods asked Kali to destroy the monster and, as she set about killing the demons, she drank their blood before it reached the ground, so that they were unable to multiply. When only the original monster remained, Kali gulped him down in one mouthful.
In celebration of her victory, she began to dance. As her movements began more and more frenzied, all creation began to shake, and the whole of existence was threatened with destruction due to her bloodlust. The gods begged Lord Shiva to the goddess from dancing, but even the great god was unable to calm her. Eventually Lord Shiva threw himself on the ground in front of the goddess, whereupon she began to dance on his body. Finally, Kali realized what she was doing and stopped dancing.
The city of Calcutta in India is named after the goddess. Its name means “Kali Ghat” or “Kali’s Steps”. Each day, animals are sacrificed to her, and it is believed that human sacrifices were made to her in the past.