Many people, including spiritual leaders in shakti worship, tend to unintentionally complicate simple things such as daily prayer. Because of this, those who are new to the belief system, find themselves lacking confidence and feeling discouraged from praying in fear that “they’re doing it wrong”.
I’m here to give you the secret to praying to Kali Ma and also a practical daily prayer ritual for those who find comfort in routine.
The secret to worshipping Kali Ma is this:
Love her. Every word you utter to her, every offering you give her, do it from love and with love. If you’re very new to Shakti worship it will be difficult to love her. I understand that. How do you love that which you do not know?
Do children know to love their mothers the moment they are born? I do not believe so. But as a mother myself, I can tell you I loved my children the moment I knew of their existence, as the Mother Kali does with all of her children. So do not be afraid to approach her. Feel confident in the fact that she already loves you.
Take the time to get to know her. Learn about her. The way newborns learn to love their mothers. There is no rush. It will happen in a blink of an eye.
If you’re feeling rushed to worship her because of dire circumstances, then you must already have some faith in her existence and respect for her power. You must have some knowledge of who she is and how she helps her children. If this is why you’re looking to learn to worship her, it’s understandable and absolutely acceptable. Feel confident in the fact that she already loves you.
So how do you pray to her when you do not know her well enough to love her?
You start with respect and faith and honesty. Do not just read these words and nod your head. Before you take your next step in worshipping any deity, it is important to be honest with yourself about why you’re doing so. Contemplate what it is about that deity that you know and believe in.
When my friend Eddie first started worshipping the Mother Kali, he admitted to knowing nothing of her but what he grew up hearing, which was to fear her because she was mega powerful. Eddie knew of people in his village in Guyana who went to Kali Temple every weekend and had yearly pujas for this Mother where they offered her a goat.
Every photo he saw of Mother Kali, she was half naked, with skulls around the neck, blood dripping from her mouth, a head in one hand, a machete in the other… all while she trampled her husband, Lord Shiva, with one powerful foot. Of course he was scared! Eddie said he was a teen believing that worshipping this Mother was some form of voodoo.
But then his life went to crap. A wise person spoke to him about Mother Kali. Told Eddie stories about Mother Kali from the Shri Devi Bhagvatam and the Shiv Purana. Shared personal stories about his 20 years of experience in service to the Mother Kali. This wise man then gave Eddie a photo of her so he could focus on her while praying. Eddie was told to light her a tea candle, offer her a cup of water and pray to her. He was to then close his prayer by chanting her mantra – Om Klim Kalika-Yei Namaha – 108 times. After doing this for 3 days, she began to dream him (he did not dream of her, but instead she gave him dreams). She advised him. Within weeks Eddie’s life changed. Eddie said to me that he felt nothing but love and compassion from her. It’s been 7 years, he is still her devotee, he refers to himself as her son and has a happy life.
The Pujarie in my temple always says, when you pray to Mother Kali, it’s like a child crying out to a mother. And Mother Kali always responds as a mother who hears her child cry. Think about that. What does a mother do the moment she hears her child crying?
Practical Ritual for Everyday/Anyday Worship
For those who like to have a “praying routine” to perform service to this great Mother or any deity, please see below. Please note, you can omit anything you do not have in the list of supplies and there’s no specific order for giving offerings though you do always want to start with a light and water and end with bowing.
A photo of the Deity.
A “light”. This can be a dia with ghee and a wick, a tea candle or a devotional candle that you can out and relight when needed. Have a dia but no wick? Rip a strip of paper towel and twist it until it’s nice and tight.
A glass of water. The glass can be a new plastic/styrofoam cup, a lota, or a glass never used before. Size does not matter.
A Flower or Fruit. These should be washed before beginning. Do not eat from the fruits until after.
Water in a cup or bowl with a spoon for sprinkling.
Rudraksha beads if you plan to chant a mantra 108 times. I suggest these as they are semi-smooth and won’t cause bruising: Rudraksha Beads.
An alter. This is anywhere clean (a table, shelf, a bookcase) in a room where you do not eat, drink alcohol, get naked or get intimate. This place should be your permanent place for prayer until which time you need to find another place to make permanent.
Pre Prayer Steps
Though you can pray any time during the day, the best time of day is the 2 hours before sunrise. This is a time when your home and neighborhood will mostly be quiet and you can focus and concentrate without distractions.
An alter of any type is a sacred place. When praying to any Vedic/Shakti/Tantric deity, it’s best take a shower first and not have any meat, eggs, alcohol or intimacy before approaching the alter. Usually I abstain from these indulgences starting from 12am so I can pray between 4am and 6am. I do check online for the sunrise time in hopes that I’ll get an extra 30 minutes of sleep. 😉
When following the below steps, you can say a mantra as you go. This helps you concentrate.
If you’re praying to Kali Ma, you can say: Aum Kring Kalakayei Namaha.
If you’re praying to Lord Shiva, you can say: Om Namah Shivaya
Lord Ganesh: Aum Gum Ganapatiyei Namaha.
Mother Durga: Aum Dum Durgayei Namaha.
Other deities you can say: Aum Namo Shri (Deity’s Name) Ai Yei Namaha.
Sit in a comfortable position. Keep your back straight. Drop your shoulders. Close your eyes and begin long, slow deep breathing. Disconnect yourself from concerns/problems/your to-do list.
Bring your hands together at the chest and open your prayer by chanting Aum with a full exhalation.
Say this a few times until you feel relaxed.
Open your eyes.
Place the cup of water in front of the deity.
Pick up the “light” with your right hand and circle the altar with it 3 times in a clockwise direction. (this is called offering arti)
Circle the deity with the incense in the same manner.
Circle the deity with perfume in the same manner while spraying.
With your right hand, sprinkle water in a clockwise direction to cool the atmosphere.
Offer fruit offerings to the deity using your right hand. You can feel free to arti the deity with the offering before putting it nicely down in front of them.
Offer flowers to the deity using your right hand. You can feel free to arti the deity with the offering before putting it nicely down in front of them.
Place your palms together again and pray to The Great Loving Mother (or the deity you have chosen). You may feel your mind go blank. You may get anxious worrying that you should be reciting a special prayer at this time. STOP. This is the time that you take to communicate with Mother Kali. Tell her what’s on your mind. What you’re struggling with. Unburden yourself. And then ask for assistance, her guidance and her blessings.
Pick up the “light” and arti the deity with it.
Touch your head to the ground before the deity saying Jai Kali Mata! (or Jai Deity Name!)
Chanting is a simple act of devotion based on the ancient practice of japa yoga. By saying it’s simple, I mean it’s easy to do. But the act itself is not simple when it comes to the changes it can bring about. The purpose of this and other rituals to the Divine Mother is to open yourself to her powers and to allow her to influence the flow of your life. You can expect changes in your mental state, the environment around you and the issues in your life. This is because when you allow yourself to connect with the Divine Mother in this way, you are tuning your consciousness to hers and by doing so you are changing your thought process to be more like hers. You will notice that you handle situations differently, react to people differently, have more sympathy, less stress and have more love for yourself and those around you.
So how do you chant? Chanting is the simple act of sitting in a comfortable position, eyes closed, repeating a mantra (any listed in the Pre Prayer section above is a good start) silently or aloud. The mind is focused on the mantra, the thoughts are let go of and the breath is slow and deep. When using beads you would start with one round, this means for every bead you will say the mantra once, that’s 108 times. As 108 becomes easy you would increase to two rounds of the beads and so on.
Hold your beads in your right hand, hanging the beads off your middle finger and use your thumb to count each mantra by touching the bead during the recitation and then lightly pulling the bead towards you on completion and moving to the next bead. The large meru bead should not be counted. It’s used as a starting and ending point of the recitation.
If you do not have the beads listed in the Supply list, you can set a timer for 10 minutes. When ten minutes becomes easy, set the timer for 15 minutes and increase as you go.
As you get into a routine a chanting, you may begin to feel a fine vibration. It’s a tingling feeling across the skin. Do not be afraid. This is the power of the Divine Mother that you’re feeling. Embrace it with joy.