Kali is many things. She is Mahakali Jagadhatri, “The Creator of the World.” She is Devi Khadgahasta, “She that Carries a Clever.” She is Chinnajata Jatajutavilasini Sarvarajayutabhima Sarvarajoparisthata Shmashanstha, “She That Dwells in the Cremation Ground.” She is also, apparently, Devi Credit Card-ji, “She That Can Make Purchases With Plastic Swipes.”
It looks like New York’s own Kali Mandir has been approved for a Kali credit card, which will allow devotees of Vidhatrivaradayini, “The Giver of Boons,” to truly recieve all the gifts money can(‘t) buy!
No longer need a child of the Mother wait around for long pujas to finish in order to bathe in the good fortunes of Mahakali. No longer need a sadhaka spend endless nights in the cremation ground looking for the corpse of a warrior upon which to draw the sacred Kaliyantra. No longer must we wait. We can finally have it all, and have it now.
Interestingly, the arrival of the Kali credit card comes at a time when there is much debate over the use of Hindu imagery to sell or market commodities. The loudest voice against such practices comes from Rajan Zed, head of the Universal Society of Hinduism, who feels that “inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda [is] not okay as it hurt[s] the devout.” The Pagan-centric blog, The Wild Hunt, has been doing a pretty splendid job of following the debate on where to draw the line between shameless Western appropriation of cultural identities and the free play of symbols.
The little breath savers above are caught in the cross fire as people weigh in heavily on both sides of the controversy.
The debate over where cultural appropriation begins and ends is going to be with us for a while. (Thanks Colonialism!) So, let’s be prepared to see more and more of this sort of discussion making its way into mainstream venues. And to all my pale face sistren and bredren, let’s light a candle for our ancestors and ask them to come back and fix some of this mess. Be prepared. They’re going to need a little more than sage.
Many thanks to the Broome Street Temple for hipping me to the credit card story.