Mahakala looks wrathful and is bedecked with serpents. He wears a garland of severed heads and a crown of five skulls, which represents five poisons of delusions namely lust, hatred, ignorance, pride and jealousy transformed into the wisdom of five Buddhas.
His right-hand holds a kartri symbolizing that he has cut off ego, clinging, and attachment. His left-hand holds a kapala filled with blood symbolizing the subjugation of the evil. Since, there are many forms of Mahakala such as two armed, four armed and multiple armed; the deity holds different objects according to its different manifestations.
He also wears a tiger skin symbolizing the purification of desires. He has three eyes symbolizing his clear comprehension of Three times. He looks ferocious against a background of blazing fire.
His two feet symbolize wisdom and method. His ferocious appearance aside, Mahakala is a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of universal compassion.