Kali is a female Hindu deity, who is described as aggressive, pugnacious and ferocious and is grossly identified as a symbol of darkness and violence. She is traditionally represented naked, with her fierce eyes and tongue sticking out and a necklace of human skulls around her neck.
Her face is stained with long streaks of blood. The center of most worship is in the city of Calcutta at the temple of Kalighat, a place where animal sacrifices are still performed in her honour.
Kali is believed to be responsible for killing the Asura Raktabija by drinking his blood. She ended up eating his flesh. The importance of the cult of Kali in eastern India perhaps indicates that she originated as a tribal deity of the thugs and aboriginal tribes in the region.
Kali is now most popular in Bengal and in Nepal, through Tantrism, which also spread all over India and plays an important role in her personification. She plays a prominent role in the late religious Bengali Literature.
The most important festival in her honour is Kali Puja, which is celebrated on the same day as Diwali, usually in late October or early November. People in the eastern India on this day worship Kali, while people in North India at the same time worship Lakshmi.
One of the most important and popular shrines of Nepal is the Dakshinkali temple, located south of Kathmandu. Here hundreds of castrated male animals mostly roosters and goats are sacrificed daily. The heads of the animals remain in the temple, and the bodies are consumed by the offerer and their family members at a picnic in the woods or taken home.
In southern India, in the literature of the Sangam period of Tamils, a bloodthirsty tribal warrior of the mountain named Kotravai appears. She was brutal and inspires fear in people by her cruel practices. It is likely that the merger between Ratri from the Rig veda and indigenous Kotravai produces fearsome Kali, who is the most prominent.
The famous Bengali preacher Rama Krishna, who lived during 1836 to 1886 was a great devotee of Kali.