unbekannter Gast

Bloody sacrifices for goddess Kali in Dakshinkali near Kathmandu#

By

Günther Jontes

All phots were taken by the author in the years 1977 - 2015 at various occasions and are part of the archive "Pictureflood Jontes".

Bild 'image1'

While Buddhism rejects sacrifices with the preceding killing of a living being, such traditions have been preserved in Hinduism. Sacrifices are especially offered to Goddess Kali. Goddess Kali who is depicted frighteningly (Sanskrit: The Black) is one of the aspects of the wives of the high god Shiva. Unlike her Lord and the other family members devout Hindus regard her worship as wish-fulfilling. She is also seen as great protector against demons and malicious gods. In her honor animals are slaughtered in order to make her sympathetic to the devout pilgrim. Until 1780, when the Nepalese government prohibited human sacrifices, such were also offered with the hope to be particularly wish-fulfilling. In this fashion the unity of life and death could be also expressed.

In the valley of Katmandu Kathmandu approximately 400 m above the sea and 20 km south west of the capital of Nepal there is a small basin which can be reached by a steep and long staircase. Then you are in the temple of Dakshinkali Dakshinkali,nepal . In Hindi the name means literally „Kali in the South“. Art historically this temple is not very important, but it is the most important pilgrimage site of people in Kathmandu area. In the Middle Ages at the corner points of the cardinal directions, temples for various gods were constructed in order to protect the valley spiritually. In the south Kali has to take over this task. Unlike in other parts in Nepal the variety of the Hindu religious life, devout customs and people can be experienced here. The writer of this essay has visited this place a couple of times in order to document the colourfulness of devotion to this goddess.

The cult site is connected to the mightiest emperor of Kathmandu King Pratapamalla (1641-1674) of the local Malla dynasty. Once he had a dream that he was ordered to construct a temple for Goddess Kali in a remote region. A region was found in which there had been a picture of the goddess and the ruins of a temple. The new cult site was built on the ruins. Most probably the worship at this site can be dated back to the 14th century. Pratapamalla was the most important builder at that time. He was the constructor of palaces and temples around the Durbar place in Kathmandu. Among others he restructured the plateau, built the staircase to the mountain shrine of Svayambhunath, the bath of queen „Rani Pokhari“, the monument of Kalabhairava-Monument. His bronze statue amid his sons stands on a column in front of the Hanuman Dhoka palace of Kathmandu.

The small basin with its river comprises the actual place of worship, all in the open air with. There are stairs and bridges and above, a level higher, shops, food stalls and craft shops.

The main sacrificial days are Saturday and Tuesday. Crowds of people arrive
The main sacrificial days are Saturday and Tuesday. Crowds of people arrive
On a main sacrificial day
On a main sacrificial day
From higher up one can overlook the terrain easier
From higher up one can overlook the terrain easier
Above the goddess image there is a baldachin carried by four snakes
Above the goddess image there is a baldachin carried by four snakes
Four snakes
Four snakes
At this sacred place there is also a terrace above the river, where cremations can be carried out
At this sacred place there is also a terrace above the river, where cremations can be carried out
After having been cleaned from blood the image of the goddess is covered with a silver gown. This is done after each sacrifice day
After having been cleaned from blood the image of the goddess is covered with a silver gown. This is done after each sacrifice day
When sacrifices take place only the face of the goddess image is recognized because of many flower garlands. On the left side are niches with other sculptures, which are also involved in the blood sacrifice
When sacrifices take place only the face of the goddess image is recognized because of many flower garlands. On the left side are niches with other sculptures, which are also involved in the blood sacrifice
A pilgrim is decorating it
A pilgrim is decorating it
The very old statue of grace is without any value as piece of art
The very old statue of grace is without any value as piece of art
The very old statue of grace
The very old statue of grace
Behind the barrier with numerous lamps the actual sacral area is situated. It can only be entered by Hindu pilgrims. The big trident is the symbol of Shiva, the husband of Kali
Behind the barrier with numerous lamps the actual sacral area is located. It can only be entered by Hindu pilgrims. The big trident is the symbol of Shiva, the husband of Kali
The inner sanctuary is protected spiritually by bronze lions
The inner sanctuary is protected spiritually by bronze lions
The inner sanctum is protected spiritually by bronze lions
The inner sanctuary is protected spiritually by bronze lions
The inner sanctuary is protected spiritually by bronze lions
The inner sanctuary is protected spiritually by bronze lions
The inner sanctuary is protected spiritually by bronze lions
The inner sanctuary is protected spiritually by bronze lions
The gods are considered very human-like. When you approach them you can attract their attention by ringing the bells which has the meaning “I am here! Listen to me!“
The gods are considered very human-like. When you approach them you can attract their attention by ringing the bells which has the meaning “I am here! Listen to me!“
Bells
Bells
Oil lamps are lighted and incense is burned
Oil lamps are lighted and incense is burned
Incense
Incense
Incense
Incense
Incense
Incense
Incense
Incense
Chittipattis are the skeletal protectors of funeral sites.
Chittipattis are the skeletal protectors of funeral sites.
Pilgrims who would like to sacrifice have to fast and to clean themselves spiritually
Pilgrims who would like to sacrifice have to fast and to clean themselves spiritually
Kali likes red colour, the colour of blood. Therefore, women dress in robes of this colour
Kali likes red colour, the colour of blood. Therefore, women dress in robes of this colour
They made themselves especially beautiful for this day
They made themselves especially beautiful for this day
Married women are recognized by the fact that they retrace their apex with red colour
Married women are recognized by the fact that they retrace their apex with red colour
Married woman
Married woman
Red signs on the forehead have the meaning that the pilgrim was blessed by one of the many Brahmins in front of the shrine
Red signs on the forehead have the meaning that the pilgrim was blessed by one of the many Brahmins in front of the shrine
Red sign on the forehead
Red sign on the forehead
Pilgrims queue up with the newly purchased sacrificial animal
Pilgrims queue up with the newly purchased sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Animals that are sacrificed to the Goddess have to be male and as dark coloured as possible
Animals that are sacrificed to the Goddess have to be male and as dark coloured as possible
Pilgrimage sites attract a large number of „holy men“, who earn their living with blessing the pilgrims
Pilgrimage sites attract a large number of „holy men “, who earn their living with blessing the pilgrims
The Rudraksha-necklace indicate that the pilgrim is a worshiper of Shiva
The Rudraksha-necklace indicate that the pilgrim is a worshiper of Shiva
Brahmins as members of the highest caste of priests perform special rituals for the pilgrims and advise them in spiritual matters
Brahmins as members of the highest caste of priests perform special rituals for the pilgrims and advise them in spiritual matters
Special ritual
Special ritual
A Brahmin makes a red sign of blessing on the forehead of a pilgrim. His own forehead painting indicates that he is a follower of Shiva
A Brahmin makes a red sign of blessing on the forehead of a pilgrim. His own forehead painting indicates that he is a follower of Shiva
Far from the South of India this Sadhu came to Dakshinkali
Far from the South of India this Sadhu came to Dakshinkali
A blind beggar catches gifts
A blind beggar catches gifts
Pilgrim
Pilgrim
The simplest of all the gifts are flower garlands (skr. Mala), which are offered freshly on the way to the temple at many stands
The simplest of all the gifts are flower garlands (Sanskrit: Mala), which are offered freshly on the way to the temple at many stands
Even aprons with pretty much gold foil belong to the gifts for the goddess
Even aprons with a lot gold foil belong to the gifts for the goddess
Offerings
Offerings
Flower garlands
Flower garlands
Flower garlands
Flower garlands
Eggs are already the first step to animal sacrifice
Eggs are already the first step to animal sacrifice

In Hinduism and Buddhism all living beings are equal. Therefore, they are also subject to the same treatment with regard to the life balance of karma and the cycle of rebirth. Prior to killing the animal the sacrificial priest performs a kind of "excuse us" ceremony. The creature is asked whether it agrees to find the death in favour of the goddess. First the yound animal gets a ritual anointing. Then it is sprinkled with water. When shaking, the animal is considered to agree. Contrary to the human acting repertory in Western countries, shaking means yes in South Asia. Then the sacrifice can take place. The sacrificial priest separates the head from the body of the animal with a quick cut. The blood is poured over the statue of the goddess and other cult images. The pilgrim takes the carcass for preparation and consumption.

Kali is particularly well-disposed towards a mall black goat which is led to the sacrifice
Kali is particularly well- disposed towards a small black goat which is led to the sacrifice
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Sacrificial animal
Blood sacrifice
Blood sacrifice
Blood sacrifice
Blood sacrifice

What follows now shows how pragmatic people think. Professional helpers gut the animal, cut it and make it oven-ready. They cook it also for money. Like at a picnic site, the whole family gets something to eat. After having fasted for the pilgrimage the pilgrims are hungry.

Gutting of animals
Gutting of animals
Even at the roadside and in cooking shops food is served. Since the members of the higher castes are often vegetarian, dairy products and fried pastries are of particular importance
Even at the roadside and in cooking shops food is served. Since the members of the higher castes are often vegetarian, dairy products and fried pastries are of particular importance
Natural yogurt is very tasty
Natural yogurt is very tasty
Yogurt
Yogurt
Yogurt
Yogurt
Cream cheese
Cream cheese
Cream cheese
Cream cheese
Shortbread biscuits cooked in oil and dipped in sugar syrup are very popular
Shortbread biscuits cooked in oil and dipped in sugar syrup are very popular
Cooking
Cooking is done by men, only
Cook
Cook
Flatbread
Flatbread
It is tasty
It is tasty

After completion of religious duties at pilgrimage sites the pilgrims can buy all kinds of goods. Along the access roads numerous traders are selling goods and foodstuff.

Food and goods
Food and goods
Food and goods
Food and goods
Food and goods
Food and goods
Food and goods
Food and goods
Food and goods
Food and goods

The worship of the wish-granting goddess Kali in both the private and family circle is also reflected in the fact that the publishers of popular graphic have brought forth India’s devotional images in countless variations. Images are still produced and have also Kali as a subject. Based on European lithographic images which were brought and spread in India by German missionaries, the style has been developed in India in the 19th century. The following samples are taken from the ethnographic collection of the author of this essay. Partly they were acquired in Dakshinkali.

Kali is bloodthirsty, but friendly to humankind. She rises virtually from the body of her husband from one world to another. As decoration she wears a skull chain. Other attributes are weapons and a severed head, blue-black skin colour and an outstretched tongue.

Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali
Depiction of Kali