SHARANYA Newsletter: Oct/Nov 2008
In This Issue:
Jai Maha Kali: Where Does She Come From...?
SHARANYA's 5th Annual Kali Puja Festival
Holy Days: Samhain
Mala Mantra: Rosary Blessing
Join our community!
Festive Recipies for Divali & Kali Puja
Holy Days: Navaratri
Jai Maa!
Contact Info

Jai Maha Kali: Where Does She Come From...?

While there are many conflicting accounts of Kali’s origin (and indeed, she is, by definition, beyond time itself), in one story, Kali is said to be formed of the poison stored in Shiva’s throat, which he swallowed when it was produced during the churning of the milk ocean.

There was once a celestial demon named Daruka who had acquired immense powers. As is the usual desire of such demons, he set about harassing the gods in every way possible. The gods, as they often did, made their way to Shiva to ask for his help.

“Lord, save us from Daruka. We are unable to slay him, for he is destined to only be killed by a woman.”

Seeing the gods in supplication, Shiva smiled and said, “Don’t be afraid.”

He turned to the goddess Uma, who was sitting by his side and said, “Splendid lady, for the good of the worlds, please slay this demon.”

Hearing this, Uma entered Shiva’s body in a subtle form. Then, creating another body from the poison stored in his neck, she came out again. She stood before the gods as the all-powerful Kali, with her wild matted locks and three flashing red eyes. Taking up a sharp trident, she set out for the destruction of Daruka. After a short fight, she beheaded the demon and drank his blood. But her anger was not assuaged. The entire universe seemed to shake as she vented her fury with terrific shrieks. As she danced and spun around, her feet pounded the earth with the sound of thunder.

Shiva at once assumed the form of a small boy. He sat in a cremation ground near Kali and began to cry. The beautiful child immediately attracted the goddess. She went over to him and tenderly raised him upon her lap, offering him her breast. As she suckled him, Shiva sucked out her wrath and she once again assumed her form as Uma.

Kali also appears from Uma or Parvati on another occasion, when the goddess hears her husband insulted. Infuriated, she transforms into Kali and a number of other formidable manifestations of the goddess. And in an account found in the Linga Purana, which describes how Shiva set out to destroy the cities of the demons, it is Kali who rides along with him, whirling a blazing trident and intoxicated on the blood of her victims.

While Kali often attracts the worship of persons strongly desirous of material power and worldly enjoyments, this is a dangerous pursuit. It is the great paradox of material life. The more one tries to extract enjoyment from the material energy, the more one becomes exposed to the possibility of pain and suffering. Kali is the extreme representation of this truth. When approached solely for pleasure, she inevitably delivers pain...

Learn more about the Great Goddess >>


SHARANYA's 5th Annual Kali Puja Festival

Join Us in Worship this Saturday!

Come be with us in celebration of the Divine Mother! Together we will honor the Dark Goddess, Kali Maa, in Her many forms through devotional and (r)evolutionary worship that brings together traditions of East and West. At SHARANYA's Kali Puja Festival, all are welcome to dive into Her all-encompassing, sweet and powerful embrace. Pujas in the Sha'can tradition are fun, participatory, transformative and full of love for Maa.

We gather this Saturday at 6:00pm
and look forward to honoring the
Divine Mother with you.

Jai Maa Kali ki Jai!

Requested sliding scale donation is $15-21. No one is turned away for lack of funds - give what you can, even if it's just your love and devotion! We encourage you to wear red (Kali's sacred color), and to refrain from wearing black. You may bring flowers for the altar, and/or vegetarian sweets to share. We will have community time following the ceremony.

Please RSVP to and purchase your tickets here.

Puja Location Map >>


Holy Days: Samhain


Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, as ancient Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light (Beltaine, on May 1st) and the dark (Samhain, on November 1st). Samhain generally marked the beginning of a whole new cycle; it was understood that in the dark silence of the fall/winter season, new beginnings stirred deep below the ground. Samhain, from the Gaelic, literally means “summer’s end.” The most magically potent time of the festival is November Eve, known as Halloween (October 31st). Through the centuries, both pagan and Christian beliefs intertwined in various celebrations from Oct. 31st through Nov. 5th, all of which revel in the mystery of the dark.

In early Ireland, people gathered at the ritual centers of the tribes, for Samhain was the principal calendar feast of the year.  The greatest assembly was the Feast of Tara, focusing on the royal seat of the High King as the heart of the sacred land, the point of conception for the new year. In every household throughout the country, hearth fires were extinguished. All waited for the Druids to light the new fire of the year, not at Tara, but at Tlachtga, a hill twelve miles to the northwest. It marked the burial-place of Tlachtga, daughter of the great druid Mogh Ruith, who may once have been a goddess in her own right in a former age.

In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable and byre. All the harvest was gathered at this time: barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples.  The gods were thought to draw near to Earth at Samhain, so many sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving for the harvest. Personal prayers in the form of objects symbolizing the wishes of supplicants or ailments to be healed were cast into the fire, and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to rekindle all the home fires of the tribe, as at Beltane.

In the 1860s the Halloween bonfires were still so popular in Scotland that one traveler reported seeing thirty fires lighting up the hillsides all on one night, each surrounded by rings of dancing figures, a practice which continued up to the first World War.  Afterwards, ashes from the fires were sprinkled over the fields to protect them during the winter months—and of course, they also improved the soil. The bonfire provided an island of light within the oncoming tide of winter darkness.

For other holy days...see our full calender of events >>


Mala Mantra: Rosary Blessing

This mantra is used to bless and establish the energy of intentionality within one's mala or rosary. Used for repetition of the divine names, also known as japa, the mala is an important tool in the spiritual toolkit.

By performing japa and utilizing mantra, one taps into the spiritual science of sound. For more on this, check out our blog!

We utilize this mantra in community prior to meditation and puja. You may find that it helps ready the mind for the work of going inward, providing a good starting place for the spiritual journey. Use this mantra in your daily practice to facilitate your work with the divine names, prayer, and focusing prior to beginning ritual work with a mala...

Read more and listen to the mantra >>


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Festive Recipies for Divali & Kali Puja

Diwali (or Deepavali) is a Hindu festival that unites India in ways that go beyond religious observance. Traditionally known as the “festival of lights,” the six days of the holiday mark the victory of good over evil, as well as the homecoming of goodwill and faith after a long absence. The festival is vigorously celebrated for five continuous days, and each day has its significance with a number of legends and beliefs. Different regions of India tend to observe the holiday in different ways. In Kolkata, Kali Puja corresponds with the festival, and people light candles in memory of the souls of their departed ancestors. The goddess is workshipped at night on one night during the festival. Also, the common practice during Diwali is to light small oil lamps known as diyas. During the celebration, people put out fresh flowers, exchange gifts and new clothing, and, of course, eat lots of delicious foods and sweets. Here are two recipes for delectable sweets that are specially prepared to usher in Diwali.



(a creamy, delicious rice pudding)

1 liter milk, 1 tbsp basmati rice(washed), 1 cup sugar, 2-3 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 5 cardamoms, 4 cm cinnamon, 4 cloves, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp ghee
For garnish:

6 almonds (sliced), a handful of raisins, 8 cashew nuts (chopped), a little ghee

Heat ghee in a pressure cooker. Add bay leaves and cumin seeds. When they start to simmer, add 2 tbsp sugar. Lower the heat and stir the sugar. When it caramelizes to a dark brown, add milk, and when the milk comes to a boil, add rice. Stir well. Pressure-cook for 10-15 minutes. When cool, mix the rice and milk with a hand beater. Add sugar and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Powder cinnamon, cardamoms, and cloves finely, and add to the milk. Stir well. Heat a little ghee and fry the raisins, cashew nuts, and almonds lightly. Add to the milk and serve.



(a sweet delicacy made from grilled and sweetened gram flour flakes mixed with almonds, pressed into balls, and fried with ghee)

3 cups gram flour, 2 cups water, 4 cups sugar, 3 tbsp rice flour, oil for frying

Mix gram flour and water to a smooth, thick batter. Put water in a large bowl and keep it handy. Heat oil in a kadai (similar to a wok) and line it with a strainer that fits in neatly. Using a slotted spoon, gently tap the gram flour batter through the holes into the oil. When done, lift out the strainer with the fried boondi (ball) and drop on paper towels to drain out the excess oil. Quickly dip the boondis in the bowl full of water and remove. Wipe the strainer dry before tapping the next batch. When all the boondis are ready, bring water and sugar to a boil to obtain a syrup. Take 3 tbsp of the syrup, and heat it in a thick pan till frothy. Add the boondis and stir the mixture till it begins to leave the sides of the pan. While still warm, shape a little of the mixture into a laddu. Coat the hands with rice flour for easier handling. This recipe makes about 20 laddus. Store in an airtight jar.


Holy Days: Navaratri


Navaratri literally means “nine nights.” The Hindu festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer (known as Ramanavami) and again at the onset of winter. During Navaratri, worshippers invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, Devi (goddess) or Shakti (energy or power). This energy is what propels the work of creation, preservation, and destruction.

Although it has different names in various parts of India, Hindus from all regions celebrate it from Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south. The nine different aspects of Devi are worshipped over the nine days. These include the most popular forms under which she is worshipped: Durga, goddess beyond reach; Bhadrakali, the auspicious power of time; Amba or Jagdamba, mother of the world; Annapurna, giver of food and prosperity; Sarvamangala, auspicious goddess; Bhairavi, the power of death; Chandika, the violent and furious goddess; Lalitha, the playful; and Bhavani, giver of existence.

The festivities typically culminate on the tenth day, when people in most parts of the country burn effigies of the demons Ravana, Meghanatha, and Kumbhakarna. During Navaratri some people fast on all days, only taking fruit and milk, and some fast only on the eight or ninth day. The festival is dear to the mother goddess and on the ninth day many people invite over nine young girls from the neighborhood, who are treated as the goddess herself.

On the first day of the festival, grains of barley are planted in the puja room of the house, and a small bed of mud is prepared in which barley seeds are sown after a small puja has been performed. Each day, some water is sprinkled on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are three to five inches long. After the puja, the seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from the goddess. This custom suggests a link to the festival and the harvest.

For other holy days...see our full calender of events >>


Jai Maa!

Oh dark one with 3 eyes of sight
and beauty in your black and naked body
To the ignorant, you are terrible
but to your beloved
we swim with joy in your 3 eyes
and caress from your dark skin
and know you are our Mother

By: Maya



SHARANYA: The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit Devi Mandir (Goddess Temple). All donations are tax-deductible. For more information about upcoming events, please visit or email All are welcome!

Jai Maa!


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