The symbol. Through the eyes of each devotee,

The Evolution of BhadraKali Cult

Bhadra Kali worship  in Kerala is one
of  the most established concept deep
rooted in the popular traditions and ritual heritage of the region. No other
cult or concept has profound influence on the myth, rituals, beliefs and day
today life of the people of Kerala. This concept gains much space in Kerala and
is completely merge with the local environment of the land. The village
goddesses emerged from the ancient mother goddess tradition has been worshipped
in almost all villages of Kerala. Most of these goddesses are empathized with
Sakti worshipi. BhadraKali
is the living presence in the ballad ethnicity of the state. Though the
patriarchal sanskritic tradition tried to marginalize the indigenous cultural
values of goddess worship, Kali is still venerated in every village and
worshipped in almost all over Kerala. BhadraKali cult is more significant in
Kerala than any other place in Indiaii.

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origin of BhadraKali is traditionally related to the myth of Kali- Dharika war.  The Bhadrolpathi
of Markandeyapurana, the
greatness of BhadraKali is described.  According
to Sarah Caldwell, “The definition of Kali as an Aryan or non-aryan Goddess
(whether tribal, Dravidian or Asura) is a central concern of narrators for whom
she has long been a powerful political symbol. 
Through the eyes of each devotee, her identity subtly shifts to conform
to the cultural identities that are most meaningful and operativeiii. The origin myth of
Bhadrakali can be seen in Malayalam and Sanskrit as Bhadrakali Mahatmyam,
Bhadrolpatti and Dharikavadham/Dharukavadham (Death of
Dharuka/Dharika).It is only in the
text Saparivaram Pujakal by Kakkad Narayanan Namboothiripad, composed much
later in 20th century that the pujas specifically for Bhadrakali
is mentioned. However, there existed a strong Tantric tradition in Kerala is believed
to be established by Parasurama where Bhadrakali is worshipped as a main deity.

Tantric Tradition
and The BhadraKali Worship in Kerala-historical perspective

In Kerala generally there existed two
forms of tantric traditions, Brahmanic and folk.

The folk religion as well as the
organized religion of Kerala had been profoundly influenced by the Tantric cultiv .Traditionaly it is
believed that five well known schools of Tantra existed in India;the Kerala, Kashmir
and Gauda(Bengal) were the most recognized schools. They represent mainly three
schools Asvakrantha,Rathakrantha and
Vishnukranthav.The Tantric
tradition of Kerala assigns equal importance to all deities like Siva, Visnu,
Durga, Ganapati, Bhadrakali, Subrahmanya, Sasta, Sankaranarayana, etc. ‘Parasuramakalpasutra’
known as the Tantra text of Kerala is make-believe to have been the work of Lord


malabariley naadan kalayil’,(mal)1980,p.40

Lakshmi Rajeev,Attukal Amma,The Goddess of millions,Harpercollins

Sarah Caldwell, ‘ Margins
at the  center:Tracing Kali through Time,
Space and Culture ‘ in Encountering Kali:In the Margins,at the Center,in the
West,(edt by Rachel fell Mcdermott and Jeffrey j Kripal ,Delhi:Motilal
Banarasidass Publishers,2005,p.255

iv T.MadhavaMenon,(ed.)A Handbook of Kerala,vol.1,

v Ibid.,p.252