Kali is derived from the Sanskrit "Kali", or time—she, therefore, represents Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. "Kali" also mean "the black one", the feminine noun of the Sanskrit adjective Kali. Kali's earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. She is worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti.
Shakta Hindu sects and Shākta Tantric beliefs additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as the divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. Kali is the first of the 10 Mahavidyas, or manifestations of the Great Goddess, or ultimate reality. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kali is worshipped by Hindus throughout India but particularly Bengal, Assam, Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, along with Nepal and Sri Lanka.