Doing the Mother's Caribbean Work

Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey J. Kripal

in Encountering Kālī

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780520232396
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928176 | DOI:
Doing the Mother's Caribbean Work

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To many diasporic Indians of the nineteenth-century Caribbean, it must have been painfully obvious that the world had progressed deeply into Kaliyug—that cosmic multimillion-year period when the world falls into decline and evil rules the day. This chapter explores what it calls Kālī's “second exile,” based on her double marginality in the West Indies. Exiled to Trinidad with her Indian devotees from her native South Asia in the nineteenth century, Kālī has been exiled again within Trinidadian society through a number of different colonial, economic, and Hindu processes of acculturation, sanitation, and religion-building. Even so, the Goddess has proven herself to be amazingly protean and syncretic on the island, capable of drawing on local practices and cultural dynamics in order to continue to meet the ever-changing needs of her devotees. This is a potent reminder of “the flexible and innovative power of shakti cosmology as a situated symbolic system,” for this remarkable goddess unites in herself several seeming opposites—India and the West, power and oppression, Catholicism and Hinduism, and mysticism and psychiatry.

Keywords: Trinidad; shakti; Kālī; exile; India; Kaliyug; cosmology; Hinduism; acculturation; mysticism

Chapter.  11362 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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