Come Kali, Klum Heidi
It was a little after five o’clock, Monday morning, on the third of November, 2008. London was cold and a sharp autumn wind was blowing. I was waiting for an early train with a paper cup of coffee and a free Metro Newspaper picked up from the kiosk. Balancing the coffee mug on a handrail, I was trying to flip through the paper with the wind trying to snatch it away from me. A photo with a brief note on page 12 caught my attention.
The picture showed a woman dressed up as the Hindu goddess Kali, complete with wild hair, blue body paint, costume jewellery, an oriental crown, plastic skulls tied around the waist and to top it all, wearing golden stilettos. She was shown as carrying the traditional weapons and also the customary severed head in one of her eight hands. The write-up next to the picture informed me that there was a Halloween party in New York and that the person dressed up as Kali is the German supermodel Heidi Klum.
On Heidi Klum: The web info on Heidi Klum says that she is tall, blond and all of thirty five years old. She married twice, once to hair dresser Ric Pipino and currently to the Nigerian soul singer Sealhenry Olusegun Kwassi Olumide Adelo Samuel, better known as Seal. Other than appearing on the covers of magazines like ELLE and Vogue, Heidi has modelled for Jordache, Volkswagen and the sexy lingerie brand Victoria’s Secrets. Though not known for her acting skills, she has appeared in quite a few TV shows and also done some cameos in movies. Rather than the content between her ears her vital statistics has earned her a comfortable living. To have a better idea of her priorities, she once famousely told Oprah Winfrey that she was first attracted to her second husband after seeing the impressive bulge in his bicycle shorts (Oprah Winfrey Show, 25th October, 2007).
About Metro, Britain’s Urban Newspaper: Metro calls itself a publishing phenomenon. First published in 1999, Metro greets 1.3 million commuters every morning across the UK in cities like Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle and Sheffield. Because of its immense exposure, Metro must be capable of demanding good advertising revenue and hence, its copies are distributed free. If literate and visually unimpaired, there is no way a commuter can avoid the Metro each morning. So it would be safe to say that about a million people saw the blonde bimbo dressed as Goddess Kali. I confess that I am a Metro addict myself and even make it a point to get the issues that I miss on my off days.
A little about Kali herself: She takes her name from the Sanskrit root word Kaal, meaning ‘time’, which takes away ego from all living souls. She is the goddess that brings death to man’s empty ego, prompting him to think of his being as something that is well beyond his mortal body. Despite her fearsome form, she is also the most compassionate of the different forms of the Mother Goddess. A slayer of demons, both real and spiritual, she is also known as ‘Bhayam-kari’, or the one who causes fear (to the evil). She is perceived as the daughter of Lord Siva, created from his immense righteous anger. Millions and millions of Hindus around the world worship her as their Mother Goddess.
Klum and Kali: It is no surprise that the flippant Fraulein Klum saw Kali as prime scary material for her Halloween dress-up. Her mind might still have been working at the same levels of reasoning that she used in finding her second husband. The Hindus of UK and Europe being generally a peaceful lot, they must have let the matter ride. Had Kali been an icon of one of the less tolerant religions, Fraulein Klum would indeed have looked very blue, without help from the paintwork.
All said and nothing done, I would advise her to tread with a level of caution, the next time she chances to visit the vast sub-continent. It is quite surprising that firebrand Hindu organisations like Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena have not noticed her antics yet. She may end up getting more scared than her Halloween guests. To begin with, Heidi could come out with a simple apology, though the damage has been done for good.
Note: Recently, Dilip Singh Rana, the giant Indian wrestler was in the news. Over seven feet tall, this former labourer, policeman and power lifter is now signed on by WWE, a show wrestling organisation. Interestingly, this man fights under the name “The Great Khali”. ‘Khali’, in Hindi and most related languages means ‘finish, close, terminate, empty’ etc. So, his ring name can be roughly translated as ‘The Great Finisher or perhaps Terminator’. Of late, his publicity desk hinted that his name derives from Goddess Kali, for her destructive powers. I doubt if the brave Singh is willing to tell that to an audience in India. It might indeed be ‘Khali’ for the big Punjabi.