What is the Goddess Kali Doing in a Hospice?
As part of our Hamrahi program, David Brumley and friends visited the palliative care program at the Cachar Cancer Hospital in Silchar, Assam. Hamrahi, headed by Dr Odette Spruyt, is a program that matches Australian palliative care consultants with palliative care centers in India, so that there are annual visits for support.
Dr Ravi Kannan who directs the center, his wife Sita and Dr Iqbal Bahar have been running the palliative care program which Dr David Brumley describes in his article, “An Island of Compassion” in the Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy (September 2012, Vol. 26, No. 3 , Pages 271-273).
As Dr Brumley describes his visit to the center, he says,
To one side a figure of the goddess Kali sits in a small building—a site of her own. Her black face, protruding tongue, and garland of blood-red flowers are disturbing. The black face makes me shiver.
What is she doing here?
An interesting question. He goes on to say,
I wonder how a sick devotee of another religion might react to seeing a crucifix on the wall of their hospital room.
Wise words, indeed, Dr Brumley. To the believer, Goddess Kali wards off evil spirits and protect the patients, just as the crucifix gives a Christian peace of mind.
But what about those who do not share that faith?