Human Studies Film Archives

Guide to the Stephanos Stephanides videos of Hail Mother Kali, 1988

Collection ID:
Stephanides, Stephanos
Contains material in English, Hindi, Tamil, Creole.
Physical Description:
9 Videocassettes (U-matic)
9 hours
color sound
15 Videocassettes (VHS)
15 hours
color sound
Linear feet

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Full video record of an annual three-day Kalimai (Mother Kali) puja held in Berbice, Guyana. Footage documents various aspects of the worship of the Hindu Mother which was brought to Guyana by predominatly south Indian indentured laborers (known as Madrasi) from the mid 19th to early 20th century. In contemporary Guyana this Creolized tradition continues to be known as Madrasi religion. Documentation features invocatory chants sung in Tamil and bhajans (devotional songs) and kathas (stories) in Hindi and English. Included are interviews with the pujaris (principal ritual specialists) who direct the event; preparations in the temple; and drumming, dancing, and chanting which leads to devotional possession of various participants. The video also depicts the religious sacrifice of goats and the ritual flagellation of and fire-eating by devotees and includes an ethnohistory of the pujari who helped establish the Mother Kali tradition in Guyana.
Supplementary material: monograph; glossary of Hindi/Tamil/Creole terms used by devotees and bibliography of related materials
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or Anthropology Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.

Custodial History
Previously titled "Hail Mother Kali: Indo-Guyanese Video Project 1988."
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Received from Stephanos Stephanides in 1991.
Processing Information
Titles are supplied by the archivist for untitled films.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research. Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the Human Studies Film Archives may not be played.
Preferred Citation
Stephanos Stephanides videos of Hail Mother Kali, Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution

More Information
Local Number
Local Number
HSFA 1991.1.1

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Caribbean Area Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guyana Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Human Studies Film Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland 20746