One of the most important goddesses in the Hindu pantheon, Shakti represents divine feminine energy and is worshipped by millions of people throughout India. She is also the wife of the Hindu god of destruction and rejuvenation, Shiva.
As a vital cosmic force, Shakti takes many forms and names. As Parvati, she is honored as the mother goddess whose union with Shiva produced two sons: Kumara, who conquered the demon Taraka; and Ganesha, who became the elephant-headed god of wisdom and good fortune. Parvati symbolizes fertility, marital happiness, devotion, power, and asceticism.
In the guise of Durga, Shakti is a fierce warrior who kills the demon Mahisasur as well many other evil creatures. Kali is another form of Shakti who’s worshipped throughout India. Kali, whose name is commonly translated as “the black one,” is the dark goddess of destruction.
Kali is famous for fighting Raktavija, the head of an army of demons. According to legend, she couldn’t wound him with her weapons, so she killed him by drinking all of his blood. Because of this story, Kali is commonly portrayed as having a bright red tongue that protrudes down her chin. In addition, she is usually depicted as having four arms: In her two left hands she holds a sword and swings Raktavija’s head by his hair, while her two right hands are outstretched in blessing. She also wears a necklace of human skulls. In Hindu tradition, she symbolizes the destructive and temporary nature of life. However, her devoted adherents also believe that she protects them both on Earth and in the hereafter.
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