The Color Black at Puja

Categories: Musings

One of the questions people often ask when they are exploring or encountering SHARANYA for the first time is, “Why can’t I wear black to puja?”. For some it can seem almost counterintuitive, as Kali is black Herself. Others may assume that it’s because we are buying into overplayed stereotypes about the color.

In our tradition and lineage, black is a color only worn by the initiated, and only in certain ceremonies. For others and on most occasions, red is the color that is appropriate to don for worshiping Maa in Her many guises; for example as Bhadra Kali or Dakshina Kali.

However, initiates within our Kaula (spiritual family) also work with non-dualistic practices and open to Her as Smashan Kali, or Kali of the cremation grounds. When we wish to acknowledge and honor this path, we bring practices and knowledge to help facilitate experience with this more encompassing aspect of Maa’s presence. In public community pujas, we do not wear black because it requires clear intention and dedicated effort to contain among those not familiar with Her path.

SHARANYA certainly doesn’t turn away people who come to ceremony wearing black; but there is a responsibility that comes with calling in the non-dualistic energies of Kali Maa, and it is important to be aware of this in one’s surrender to Her. Ultimately, everyone has to make their own decision about what is appropriate to wear within their own practice. We ask, however, that if you choose to worship with us, you observe our custom out of respect.