Our Kali Puja

Categories: Musings

Kali Altar at Spiral Dance - San FranciscoWhat’s it like to experience (R)evolutionary Shakta Tantra up close and personal; to worship Kali Maa in Sanskrit and bring your heart to a Goddess with roots in India but who is felt worldwide? Perhaps you’ve never been to a puja, or to a worship service that is fully participatory. Perhaps the notion of coming into a community to offer your devotions to Goddess is a bit scary.

Be assured, we understand that She can be intimidating at first. And we recognize that joining with people you may not know in something as intimate as worship of Her can perhaps be unsettling. So, let us offer comfort by sharing that we all pretty much started at that place of uncertainty or fear or wondering, and we have been able to come together to strengthen the path of our hearts.

We invite you to join us! The container for worship is loving, embracing, inclusionary and welcoming. Enter the temple of our worship for a taste of the experience in the reflections of one of our initiates in what follows, and through our galleries here. We look forward to seeing you at a puja soon. Jai Maa!

What is Kali Puja?

We at SHARANYA honor the Goddess as the cosmic interconnectedness of all beings, the Mother of Life, and the pathway to illumination and ultimate bliss. Through Her grace and love, She guides us into the depths of our innermost being and inspires us to live in the fullness of our humanity. Specifically, we worship Maa Kali, the fierce and compassionate Mother Goddess of Hinduism, in both Her transcendent and immanent forms. Blending authentic ritual methodologies of both East and West, we are more fully able to open our hearts to Her love and offer devotion and prayer for personal, collective, and planetary evolution.

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Our puja ritual begins by casting a circle hand to hand, creating a sacred space between the worlds. We honor and invoke the powers of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, the elements of life, as guides and allies in our worship. Through breath, song, movement, and speech, three unique voices call forth the elemental powers, honoring the diversity of spiritual traditions gathered. As we conjure the elements, we draw power from each corner of the Universe and remember our intimate (inter)dependence upon them in our lives.

With the circle cast and the elements present, the gods can come forth. We first invoke Agni, Lord of the sacrificial fire, the dancing flame of all beings. Agni helps open a channel for us to commune with the Divine. Agni is also one of the most ancient deities of the Vedic tradition, honored with the first nine verses of the Rig Veda, the oldest religious text still used today. Our ceremony continues to open to the Divine by next calling Ganesha, the elephant-headed Lord of Obstacles who opens our minds and hearts to touch the Great Mystery. Through His worship, we are resolved of all that hinders our path and keeps us from fully experiencing the Divine.

Moving into deeper awareness of God and Self, we invoke Lord Shiva, the destroyer of life, sensuous yogi, Father of the Three Worlds, and Cosmic Consciousness alive in all things. His is the dance that turns the cycles of the seasons, the stars in orbit, and the ebb and flow the Universe. We welcome Him with our voices, chanting sacred verses that have lived in the hearts of humanity for thousands of years. Together we offer flowers and praise Shiva singing “Shiva Shambo Mahadeva Shambo”, honoring Shiva as the Great God and the bringer of peace. Opening to His love and compassion, we see the beauty and divinity of the world.

Fully in the flow of Divine awareness, we then call forth Maa Kali to join our circle. With deep yearning in our beingness, we welcome the Goddess with mantras that have been sung to Her for millennia. We bow to Her divine presence and perform aarti, offering incense, water, food, fan, and light before Her living image. Together we sing “Jai Maa”, Victory to the Mother, as we open fully and allow Her to touch our hearts. We breathe Her in, reaching ecstatic states through which we can more deeply experience Her beauty and grace. With the use of camphor, wine, tobacco, beer, and Tarot cards, we further deepen our awareness and allow Her messages to come forth.

Despite Her seemingly frightening imagery, Maa Kali’s unique form inspires visions of living, dynamic, interconnected reality. To those who love Her, Maa Kali is the epitome of beauty, wisdom, and wonder in the world. She is the Queen of the deepest Mysteries, the Dark Mother of all beings, and the guide to our most authentic Self. Through Her worship, we connect to the primal powers of creation and disillusion, both beautiful and fierce. We release fear and notions of what “should be” or “must be” and allow Her to free us from illusion, giving way to true liberation and freedom.

Through puja (worship) offered to Maa Kali, we allow the Goddess to heal us and renew our souls. When we set time aside, as a community or alone, to perform puja to the Divine Mother, we connect to the original whim of God to know Herself. As we attune to the elemental powers and offer devotion to the gods, we transform ourselves and give birth to new worlds of being. Puja becomes part of the cosmic creation, allowing us to journey beyond time space reality and aid in the continuation of life on this planet. It grants us the ability to move from individual heart space into places of unlimited possibility. We awaken to the Goddess in every facet of our being and transform our reality, coming to see Maa Kali as the Holy Mother in whom we live, move, and have our selves made whole.


Offered by Jaratura, a Sha’can initiate