Kali (käˈlē) [key] [Hindi, = the Black One], important goddess in popular Hinduism and Tantra. Known also as Durga [the Inaccessible] and as Chandi [the Fierce], Kali is associated with disease, death, and destruction. As Parvati she is the consort of Shiva. Although often represented as a terrifying figure, garlanded with skulls and bearing a bloody sword in one of her many arms, she is worshiped lovingly by many as the Divine Mother. Her cult, popular among many lower castes in India, especially in Bengal, frequently includes animal sacrifice. Kali was patroness of the Thugs.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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