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Dhumavati can be termed as the strangest of the Goddesses, the kind of whom, neither seen nor heard of anywhere else. She is an unlikely divine being, representing many things that we don’t normally associate divinities with. She is a widow and is linked with inauspiciousness. However, she remains very much a manifestation of Kali, the fierce form of divine Shakti, who is also known in many other names such as Parvati, Durga and Bhagavathi.
Kali is the divine consort of Lord Shiva. She remains one of the highly aggressive manifestations of the feminine energy, and is regarded as a ruthless destroyer of evil and an unfailing upholder of virtue. The name Kali literally means ‘the dark one’ or ‘the black colored’. Kala also stands for time and Kali, its feminine form. She is thus regarded as the dark colored Goddess of death, and in other words, the annihilator of ego.
Kali is also known as Adi Parashakthi, the primordial, all-powerful feminine energy and is worshipped in ten forms that are known as Dasa Mahavidyas, the ten Goddesses of great wisdom. Goddess Dhumavati is considered the seventh of these ten divine aspects.
The word Dhumavati means, ‘the smoky woman’. She is depicted a widow, with inauspicious signs and is also regarded as the Goddess of death. She has an unpleasant appearance, portrayed as an ugly looking old widow, dark complexioned and wearing dark clothes. She is also seen riding a horseless chariot or a crow, usually in a crematorium.
She is thus closely associated with things that are considered inauspicious, like widowhood, crow, cremation ground and chaturmas period (July-October), when auspicious functions are not held. Somewhat an antithesis of Lakshmi, the Goddess of auspiciousness, wealth and prosperity, she is also referred to as Alakshmi. Dhumavati is said to make her appearance at the time of pralaya, the great deluge when everything gets dissolved, and in the vacuum before creation begins again.
As per a legend, Sati, the consort of Shiva once burnt herself in the sacrificial fire raised by her father Dhaksha and Dhumavati rose along with the smoke out of sati’s burning body, with all the outrage and pain.
Though seen in a negative light, she does have positive characteristics. She is believed to be kind hearted and generous. She is also a great teacher, who can impart divine knowledge and wisdom, that can take one beyond the illusions of worldly existence. Her unattractive features teaches one to go beyond the obvious and superficial, and get to the lasting truth.
Dhumavati, the unique and uncharacteristic Goddess, is large hearted and is generally invoked for overcoming enemies. She offers strong protection to her devotees against many serious problems like poverty, disease, death of children, curse, widowhood, black magic, misfortunes and the negative effects of planet Ketu .