Balis are not only given to Kali or similar deities but even in rituals for Vishnu, Ganapati or any deity even Yakshas, & Brahmarakahas, Bali is a compulsion. Thus Bali peethams are seen in every temples built as per shastras.
Daily Balis are offered at Kamapeeth ( Kamakhya), Tarapith (Tara), Rajarappa (Chinnamasta), Gadhi mai (in Nepal).
And on occasions like Dushera, Ashtamis, at all Shakti peethas.
Like at Bimala devi Shaktipeeth in Puri, a goat is sacrificed on every Ashtami and Navami, there are many such temples.
(Ps- The answer given over here is purely Shastrokt, in case anyone has a presumption about Bali, and that a mother doesn't asks for Bali can kindly press back button. Also, I myself DON'T ADVOCATE PASHU BALI. But, I have no right to deny the Ahaar for Kali or any deity, based on my personal likes and dislikes. Thus, only facts are presented here.)
The answer here is written in 3 phases,
1st are the referances from Puranas,
2nd from Vedas and Bhashyas,
3rd suggesting various alternatives for pashu Bali with shastrokt pramanas.
Part 1- Referances from Kalika and Shrimad Devi Bhagwata Puranas.
(Since, the question asked relates to Mahakali, thus I consider only these two puranas in authority to give citations from)
Devi Bhagwat Puran 10.2.1
अर्चिष्यन्ति मनुष्यास्त्वां सर्वकामवरेश्वरीम् ।
धूपोपहारबलिभि: सर्वकामवरप्रदाम् ॥
By sacrifices of animals, dhup, ordinary human beings will worship you, because you are supreme in fulfilling all desires of everyone.
Devi Bhagwat 3.26.34 also says:—
देव्यग्रे निहता यान्ति पशवः स्वर्गमव्ययम् ।
न हिंसा पशुजा तत्र निघ्नतां तत्कृतेऽनघ ॥
O sinless one! The goats, etc., offered as a sacrifice before the Devî attain to unending heavens. Therefore persons offering the sacrifices of goats do not incur any sin.
"Karma" is possible only in Body of Human, other bodies like that of Goat, Buffalo are fruits of Karm. Neither they can perform good Karmas nor bad in these bodies, so the only way of their Mukti is by their sacrifice in Rituals.
These whole shlokas are from Kalika puran,
बलिदानं ततः पश्चात कुर्याद् देव्याः प्रमोदकम्।
मोदकैर्गजवक्त्रम् च हविषा तोषयेद्रविम्।।
तौर्यत्रिकैश्च नियमैह् शंकरं तोषयेदधरिम।
चंडीकां बलिदानेन तोषयेत् साधकः सदा।।
Then give Bali for the pleasure of the devi,because Shastra state that a sadhaka can appease Ganpati with Modak, Vishnu with ghee, Shankar with singing and dancing, Chandika with blood sacrifice.
पक्षिणह् कच्छपा ग्राहाश्छागलाश्च वराहकाह्।
महिषो गोधिकाशोषा तता नवविधा मृगाह्।।
चामरः कृष्णसारश्च शशः पंचाननस्तथा।
मत्स्याः स्वगात्ररुधीरैश्चाष्टधा बलयो मताह्।।
अभावे च तथैवैषाम् कदाचिद्धयहस्थिनौ।
छागलाह् शरभाचैव नरश्चैव यथाक्रमात्।।
बलिर्महा बलिरिति बलयः परिकीर्तितताह्।
स्नापयित्वा बलिम् तत्र पुष्पचन्दनधुपकैह्।।
Birds, tortoise, crocodile, wild boar, goat, buffalo, Monitor Lizard, rabbit, antelope, swamp deer, blackbuck, spotted deer, lion, fish, blood of sadhakas own body, horse in the absence of the aforesaid and elephant are the 8 types of Bali. Goat, antelope and enemy king are Bali, Mahabali & Atibali respectively.
चण्डिकाभैरवादोनाम् बलयः परिकीर्तिताह्।
बलिभीह् साध्यते मुक्तिर्बलिभिह् साध्यते दिवम्।।
बलिदानेन सततं जयेच्छत्रुन्नृपान् नृपह्।
मतस्यानाम् तु कच्छपानां रुधिरैह् सततं शिवा।।
मासैकं तृप्तिमाप्नोती ग्राहैर्मासांस्तु त्रीनथ।
Balis that please Chandika and the Bhairava have been thus praised. Bali ensures Mukti ( of that sadhaka), Bali ensures SwargaSukha (for that animal), and Bali is the means by which a king defeat an enemy king. With the blood of fish and tortoise, Shiva devi remains satisfied for one month, and the blood of crocodile she remains satisfied for three months.
मृगाणाम् शोणितैर्देवी नराणामपि शोणितैह्।।
अष्टो मासानवाप्नोती तृप्तिम् कल्याणदा च सा।
कृष्णसारस्य रुधिरैह् शूकरस्य च शोणितैह्।।
प्रप्नोती स तृप्तिम् द्वादशवार्षिकोम्।
अजाविकानाम् रुधिरैह् पंचविंशतिवार्षिकीम्।।
महिषा खड्गानां रुधिरैह् शतवार्षीकीम्।
तृप्तिमाप्नोती परमाम् शार्दुलरुधिरैस्तथा।।
सिंहस्य शरभस्याथ स्वगात्रस्य च शोणितैह्।
देवी तृप्तिमवाप्नोती सहस्त्रम् परिवत्सरान्।।
With the blood of dear and of enemy king, Devi remains satisfied for eight months and welfare of the Sadaka. With the blood of black buck and wild Boar, devi remains satisfied for 12 months, with the blood of goat and sheep, she remains satisfied for 25 months, the blood of Buffalo rhinoceros and tiger, she remains satisfied for hundred years. With the blood of lion, antelope and blood from Sadakha's own body, the devi remains satisfied for Thousand Years.
मांसैरपि तथा प्रीति रुधिरैर्यस्य यावती।।
कृष्णसारं मृगं खड्गं तता मत्स्यम् च रोहितम्।
वाध्रीणसयुगं फलम् तेषाम् पृथक् पृथक्।।
कृष्णसारस्य मांसेन तथा खड्गेन चण्डिका।
वर्षाणाम् च शताबन्येव तप्तिमाप्नोती केवलम्।।
I (Lord Shiva) have thus described the duration till which devi remains satisfied with the blood of which animal, for that much time period, Meat of that animal also keeps her satisfied. Offering the meat of blackbuck, rhinoceros, rohu fish and old goat have different results, listen to that. The meat of black buck and Rhino keep Chandika satisfied for 100 years.
रोहितस्य तु मत्स्यस्य मांसैर्वाध्रीणसस्य।
तृप्तिम् प्राप्नोती वर्षाणाम् शतानी त्रिणि मत्प्रिया।।
तृप्नुवन्त्विन्द्रीयक्षीणम् स्वेतं वृद्धमजापतिम्।
वाध्रीणसह् प्रोच्यतेSसो हव्ये कव्ये च सत्कृतह्।।
नीलग्रीवो रक्तशीर्षह् कृष्णापादह् सितच्छंदह्।
वाध्रीणसह् स्यात्पक्षी च मम विष्णोरपि प्रियह्।।
My wife Durga remain satisfied with rohu fish and meat of old goat for 300 years. White goat whose senses have become weak due to old age is called, "Vardhrinasah", and it's meat has been recommended in the ritual worship of deities and forefathers. A bird with blue neck, red head, black white wings, is also called,"Vardhrinasah" and it's meat satisfies me (Mahadev) and Lord Vishnu very much.
नरेण बलिना देवी साहस्त्रम् परिवत्सरान्।
विधिदत्तेन चोप्नोती तृप्ति लक्षम् त्रिभीर्नरैह्।।
नरेणेवाथच मांसेन त्रिसाहस्त्रम् वत्सरान् ।
तृप्तिमाप्नोती कामाख्या भैरवी मम रूपधृक्।।
मंत्रपूतं शोणितम् तू पीयूषम् जायते सदा।
मस्तकं चापि तस्याति मांसं चापि तथा शिवा।।
Narbali performed by following all the laid all rules satisfies Kamakhya Devi and my Bhairav form for thousand years and, with three Narabali, She remains satisfied for one lakh years. Since deities love to eat the head and the meat of sacrificed and will therefore while worshiping one should keep the decapitated head and the blood of the sacrifice animal in the front of Shiva devi.
तस्मात् तु पूजने दध्याद् वलेह् शीर्ष च लोहितम्।।
भोज्ये होमे च मांसानि नियूंजीयद् वै साधकः क्वचित्।
ऋते तु लोहितम् शीर्षममृतं तत्तु जायते।।
And observe Sadhak will give cooked and hairless meat to Devi with other food items. A decapitated head with blood drained out is as good as Amrit.
Lord Viṣṇu also says that his sister Durgā will be worshipped by sacrifices in Vishnu Puran 5.1.86
सुरामांसोपहरैश्च भक्ष्यभोज्यैश्च पूजिता ।
Propitiated with offerings of wine and flesh and various viands,
Part 1, Referances from Vedas and Bhasyas-
Vishnu Smriti 5.61
यज्ञार्थं पशवः सृष्टाः स्वयमेव स्वयम्भुवा ।
यज्ञोऽस्य भूत्यै सर्वस्य तस्माद् यज्ञे वधोऽवधः ॥
Animals have been created by the Self-born God himself for the purpose of sacrifice: sacrifice is conducive to the well-being of all this world; hence killing at a sacrifice is no ‘killing’ at all
Shraut Sutras of Different Vedic Shakhas, also:-
Kātyāyan Śraut Sūtra 20.7.19
छागोसमेषाः पश्वभिधानाद् यथालिङ्गम् ।
Ṛigved, Āśwalāyan Gṛhyasūtra 1.24.26
न अमांसो मधुपर्को भवति
Ṛigveda, Kauṣītaki Gṛhyasūtra 2.15
न अमांसः अर्घः भवति अधियज्ञमधिविवाहम्
Kṛṣṇa Yajur, Mānav Maitrāyaṇīya Gṛhyasūtra 1.9.22
न अमांसो मधुपर्क इति श्रुतिः
Śukla Yajur, Pāraskar Gṛhya Sūtra 1.3.30
न त्वेव अमांसः अर्घः स्याद् अधियज्ञमधिविवाहम् कुरूतेत्येव ब्रूयात्
Atharva, Kauṣik Gṛhya Sūtra 92.16
न अलोहितो मधुपर्को भवति
Brahma Sutra 3.1.25 of Maharshi Ved Vyas also defends Animal Sacrifice. It is:-
अशुद्धमिति चेन्न शब्दात् । Which means, If it be said that sacrificial work is unholy; we deny this on the ground of scripture.
This single Brahma Sutra denies all the possible claims against Animal Sacrifice.
Bhagwān Ādī Shankarachary in his commentary of this Sutra says:-
तस्माद्विशुद्धं कर्म वैदिकम् शिष्टैरनुष्ठीयमानत्वात् अनिन्द्यमानत्वाच्च
The work of sacrifice enjoined by the Veda is therefore holy, being performed by authoritative men and considered blameless;
Vaiṣṇav Achary themselves:-
Śrī Vaiṣṇav Achary Rāmānujāchary jiTattvavādī Vaiṣṇav Achary Madhvācharya ji,Gaudiya Vaiṣṇav Achary Baladeva Vidyābhuṣaṇ ji,Nimbārkāchary ji of Nimbark Samp,
All of them in their respective commentary of this Sutra defends Animal Sacrifice.
Rāmānujāchary in his Gitā Bhāsya 2.21 quotes a verse of Taiitirīya Brahman 22.214.171.124 in order to defend Animal Sacrifice.
न वा उव् एतन् म्रियसे न रिष्यसि । देवाꣳ इद् एषि पथिभिः सुगेभिः । यत्र यन्ति सुकृतो नापि दुष्कृतः । तत्र त्वा देवः सविता दधातु ।
"Thou dost not die, thou art not hurt, thou goest to the gods through easy paths. Where men of good deeds go and not evil-doers, there may the sun-god lead thee”
This same verse is quoted by Śrī Nivāsāchary in his commentary of Above Brahma Sutra i.e 3.1.25
Same is in Vishnu Smriti 51.64
यज्ञार्थेषु पशून्हिंसन्वेदतत्त्वार्थविद्द्विजः ।
आत्मानं च पशूंश्चैव गमयत्युत्तमां गतिम् । ।
Conclusion:- Sacrifice is sanctioned in Vedas, prescribed by Smriti, Purans and defended by Vedant Acharyas.
So there is nothing wrong in Pashu Bali.
(PS- I myself don't advocate Pashu Bali)
As said in Vishnu Smriti, The Killing of Animal in sacrifice is no killing at all.
या वेदविहिता हिंसा नियतास्मिंश्चराचरे | अहिंसां एव तां विद्याद्वेदाद्धर्मो हि निर्बभौ । ।
Part 3- Other alternatives for Pashu bali.
The first alternative that appears is to sacrifice one's own blood to Devi.
This appears in Kalika puran,
सिंहस्य शरभस्याथ स्वगात्रस्य च शोणितैह्।।
देवी तृप्तिमवाप्नोती साहस्त्रम् परिवत्सरान्।
With the blood of lion, antelope and blood from Sadakha's own body the devi remains satisfied for Thousand Years.
Also, in Durga Saptashati,
ददतुस्तौ बलिं चैव निजगात्रासृगुक्षितम्।
परितुष्टा जगद्धात्री प्रत्यक्षं प्राह चण्डिका॥13।।
12- With their minds on ther and with concentration, they both offered sacrifices sprinkled with blood drawn from their own bodies. When they, with controlled minds propitiated her thus for three years.
13- Chandika, the upholder of the world, was well pleased and spoke to them in visible form.
Thus, you see when Surath and Samadhi sacrificed their own blood, devi appeared to them just within 3 years.
(The self blood sacrifice is not a joke, it must be learnt only from a guru and then done. Or else various unwanted forces might get attracted.)
Now for alternatives where no blood is involved -
The Vaikrutikam Rahasyam, of Rahasya Trayam, explains that certain people can be exempted from blood sacrifices. The verse with explanation goes as-
रुधिराक्तेन बलिना मांसेन सुरया नृप।
(बलिमांसादिपूजेयं विप्रवर्ज्या मयेरिता॥
तेषां किल सुरामांसैर्नोक्ता पूजा नृप क्वचित्।)
प्रणामाचमनीयेन चन्दनेन सुगन्धिना॥28॥
Oh king, that Mahalakshmi should be worshipped with devotion, by the blood drenched sacrifice , toddy , meat, ( Oh king, the puja thus prescribed with sacrifice and meat is told by excluding Brahmins. For Brahmins there is no vidhan for puja with Meat and liquor.)
Salutation , Aachamana , sandal paste with good aroma.
[PS- This rule of exemption of Brahmins change with Lokachar.
For example, the Brahmins in Maithila, Bengal, Assam eat fish. Thus they must offer it to devi too. And anyone, (even from rest classes) today who doesn't eat meat or drink liquor must not offer it to devi. This can be explained by an untold Sanatana doctrine, "What you eat is, what you offer to deities". Take an example, Ashwa medha yagna was exclusivly for Kings and Worriors. The priests or other classes were exempted from it. Likewise, priests and merchants used only Vajpeyee(cooked rice), and Soma(creepers). Im not being castiest, but this was just to explain,"what you eat is what you have to offer".]
Thus in short, those who are sudh Shakahari are exempted from Animal sacrifice, but not from "Sacrifice". Since, Sacrifices are the Ahaar(food) for the deity, thus it must be offered compulsorily.
So, there are some "vegetarian" options too -
कुष्मांडभिक्षुदंडं च मध्यमासवमेव च।
एते बलिसमाह् प्राक्तास्तृप्तओ छागसमाह् सदा।।
Pumpkin, Sugarcane, liquor and 3 Makars (meat, fish and fried snacks) are also Bali and give same satisfaction as a sacrifice of black goat.
Here it says, sacrificing Pumpkin, Sugarcane is just equivalents to a black goat sacrifice.
कुशमाण्डं नारिकलम् वा श्रीफलं चेक्षुमेव च।
वस्त्रम् सम्वेष्टितम् कृत्वा छेदयेत्छुरीकादिभिह्।
एवं स्मार्तो बलिह् प्रोक्तो धर्मशास्त्रानुगामिनः।।
One should cover pumpkin, coconut, sugarcane with clothes and then slash them with knife. This is Smarth Bali for those following dharma shastras. -Gandharva tantra.
Thus, those who refrain from using Meat and wine, can sacrifice Pumpkin, Sugarcane (highly voted in Shastras). And instead of liquor, the alternate to use is Dry grape's juice (soak Kishmish in water overnight, even that water is considered as liquor.)
Even Payasam Bali is done, but Im not aware in which scripture it is mentioned.
Thus, concluding I myself don't like Pashu Bali but, I'm not against it. It is the very much Ahaar of deities. And no one has rights to object it on personal likes and dislikes.
For those who want to sacrifice animal must do so, for those who don't want to, can sacrifice Pumpkin or Sugarcane.
Thus, I will conclude with Verses of Śrīmad Bhagwat geeta which says,
यः शास्त्रविधिमुत्सृज्य वर्तते कामकारतः।
न स सिद्धिमवाप्नोति न सुखं न परां गतिम्।।
Ignoring the precept of the scriptures, he who acts under the impulsion of passion, he does not attain perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme Goal.
तस्माच्छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्यवस्थितौ।
ज्ञात्वा शास्त्रविधानोक्तं कर्म कर्तुमिहार्हसि।।
Therefore, the scripture is your authority as regards the determination of what is to be done and what is not to be done. After understanding (your) duty as presented by scriptural injunction, you ought to perform (your duty) here.
Those who want to quote Kularvana tantra,
The true meat eater is he who has merged his Chitta in the Supreme (v. 109). He who controls his senses and unites them with Atma is a fish-eater. The rest do nothing but kill animals.
The explanation from my side is -
This is indeed true, this is indeed the esoteric meaning of मांस and माछ of Panchmakar. But, how can a sadhaka, a newly initiated one reach that level (unless guru gives that lucky guy Shaktipat)?
Thus the external Panchmakars are prescribed in tantras. Slowly, the sadhaka starts to get dettached from those and reach the state of internal Panchmakar. Then to that sadhaka the lines like to sacrifice buffalo means to sacrifice anger, to sacrifice pigeon means to sacrifice lust, and so on.
Just like a person initially worships idols, the Sagun forms and slowly reaches a state of Nirgunatva, or starts to see his/her isht everywhere. The way a new learner does upchar puja on idols with various draviyas, and latter is able to do same in Manasik pujas.
Same applies here.
कालिकार्पणमस्तु । 🌺