Goddess Parvati – The Most Complex Goddess in the Hindu Pantheon

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Goddess Parvati – The Most Complex Goddess in the Hindu Pantheon

When she took birth as the daughter of Parvataraja, she danced in the Himalayas, with the grace of a peacock. She is luminous like the Sun. Just as the Sun dispels darkness, the moment She enters the hearts of Her devotees, she dispels darkness. She resides in us as Antaryami. If the hearts of Her devotees can be compared to soft-petalled lotuses, she is like a swan that resides in these lotuses. She is the embodiment of the Vedas. She is responsible for Creation, Protection and Destruction.

Parvati is the most complex of all goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. She mirrors the various roles of Mahadeva, the Supreme Purusha. As Prakriti, Devi balances the male aspect addressed as Purusha. As Lord Shiva’s consort, she is Shakti. She is the one who gives life energy or Shakti to all beings and without her, all beings are inert. Parvati is Shakti herself, who actually lives in all beings in the form of power. Without power, one can do nothing, including yoga. Being the physical manifestation of Goddess Devi, Parvati is the Goddess of Power. Shakti is needed by all beings, whether the Trimurti, the devas, humans, animals, or even plants. Parvati is the provider of shakti. Without her, life is completely inert. This power is required to see, to hear, to feel, to think, to inhale and exhale, to walk, to eat, and to do anything else. The goddess is worshiped by all gods, the Trimurti, rishis, and all other beings. But in each of her roles, Parvati has a different name to represent her mild and fierceforms.

63" Large-Than-Life Shiva-Uma, An Irreplaceable Complement To Each Other | Handmade | Panchaloha Bronze

Goddess Parvati, the gentle aspect of Devi Shakti, is represented as fair, beautiful, and benevolent. She typically wears a red dress (often a Sari), and may have a head-band. When depicted alongside Shiva, she generally appears with two arms, but when alone, she may be depicted having four. These hands may hold a conch, crown, mirror, rosary, bell, dish, farming tool such as Goad, Sugarcane stalk, or flowers such as Lotus. One of her arms in front may be in the Abhaya mudra (hand gesture for 'fear not'). One of her children, typically Ganesha, is on her knee, while her younger son Skanda may be playing near her in her watch.

Goddess Parvati is linear progenitor of all other goddesses according to Devi Bhagavata Purana. This is also the Shaiva Siddhanta stand which extends to Shakta beliefs of holding her as a Universal Mother. She is one who is source of all forms of goddesses. She is worshiped as one with many forms and name. Her different moods bring different forms or incarnations. Each of her forms is backed up by Puranic myths. Parvati is also synonymous with Kali, Durga, Kamakshi, Meenakshi, Gauri and host of forms. For instance, while Shiva Purana holds Gauri as the younger version of virgin Parvati, other myths attribute the golden skin Goddess Gauri’s to the story of Parvati casting off her undesired complexion after Shiva teased her. Another version is that Gauri is in essence a fertility Goddess. Here she is venerated as a corn mother. This is a suggestion that her golden skin represents hues of ripening grain, for which she is propitiated.

The Incomparable Devi Uma (Goddess Parvati)

Parvati was created to marry the god, Shiva. She was to have a son with him who would destroy the demons that were driving the gods out of the heavens. After Shiva’s first wife died, he withdrew himself from the world in mourning. He retired to a cave in the mountains to immerse himself in constant meditation. During this time, the demons of the underworld were rising up and beginning to overturn the gods in the heavens. So, the gods went to Shakti for help. She told them that a son of Shiva was the only one who could conquer the demons and save them. So, she manifested herself as Parvati, to seduce Shiva out of his seclusion and become his wife. Every day, Parvati would visit Shiva’s cave dwelling to sweep the floors, and bring him fruits and flowers. But Shiva would never break his meditation. Frustrated, she sought the help of Kama, the lord of desire, to also assist her. Kama decided to shoot an arrow of desire into the heart of Shiva to awaken his longing. But Shiva was angered by this, and opened his third eye to engulf Kama in flames, reducing him to ashes. Parvati did not let this deter her, and she resolved to find another way to win Shiva’s heart. She decided to immerse herself deeply into her own austere spiritual practice. She went into the forest to meditate, eating nothing, and wearing nothing to protect her from the elements. Shiva became impressed with her devotion, and decided to take her as his wife. Together, they made a son, Skanda, who was able to defeat the demons with the help of goddess Kali, another manifestation of Shakti. Later, Parvati made a son, Ganesh. One day, she instructed Ganesh to guard a doorway for her. Shiva came to see Parvati, and not recognizing Ganesh as son, became angry that he was blocking him from seeing her, and cut off his head. Parvati was in anguish over the loss of her son. So, Shiva found the head of an elephant as a replacement, and their son lived once again.

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In Kalikula, Parvati manifests as Kali, Chandi and Durga. Durga is demon fighting form of this Goddess, and some texts suggest Parvati took the form of Goddess Durga to kill Demon Durgam. Kali is another aspect that was assisted by Goddess Chandi while fighting with rakta bija. Goddess Chamunda comes in this list also. These goddesses share some common iconography as goddess Kali who is nobody but an aspect of Parvati in ferocious form. Also generally, the Tantra discipline is governed by both Sri Kula and Kali Kula. Among the Dasa Mahavidyas Kali, Tara, Bhuvaneswari and Chinnamasta are said to come under Kali Kula. Likewise, Tripur Sundari, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala come under Srikula. The dividing line is a controversial one. Further, Sati manifesting in 52 Shakti peeths are expansions of Parvati. However, there are also milder incarnations such as Meenakshi and Kamakshi and a range of goddesses manifesting from Parvati.

Standing Parvati

Parvati is the progenitor of all other Goddesses and is worshiped as one with many forms and names.

Durga: Parvati took the form of Durga to kill the demon Durgamasur.

Kali: A ferocious form of Parvati, as Goddess of time and change.

Chandi: Slayer of the demon Mahishasura.

Meenakshi: Goddess with eyes shaped like a fish.

Kamakshi: Goddess of love and devotion.

Lalita: The playful Goddess of the Universe.

Akhilandeshwari: Goddess associated with water.

Annapoorna: Representation of all that is complete and of food.

There are numerous Goddess Parvati Festivals celebrated by Hindus on various occasions:

Gauri Festival

In Maharastra and Karnataka, Goddess Parvati is worshiped as the goddess of harvest and protector of women. This festival is called Gauri festival and is celebrated on the seventh, eighth and nineth of Bhadrapada Shukla paksha.

Gangaur Festival

In Rajasthan, the worship of Goddess Parvati is celebrated as Gangaur festival. The festival starts on the first day of the Chaitra, the day after Holi and continues for 18 days. Images are made in clay for the festival.

Navratri Festival

A very popular festival of Goddess Parvati is the Navratri Festival in which all her forms are worshiped for nine days. Her warrior appearance is of Goddess Durga and other nine forms are Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kashmunda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidaatri.

Gauri Tritiya

Gauri Tritiya is another Goddess Parvati festival celebrated from Chaitra shukla third to Vaishaka shukla third. This festival is popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka where it is believed that Parvati spends this month at her parent’s home. The married women of the household erect a series of platforms in a pyramidal shape with the images of gods and goddesses, collection of ornaments, and pictures shells. Friends are invited and presented with turmeric, fruits, flowers and some eatables as prasadam. Special prayers are held at night along with singing and dancing.

Devi Gauri, The Himalayan Maha-Tapasvini

Worship of the divine goddess Parvati is said to bring about marriage, resolve conflicts between couples and help prevent miscarriage. She is also worshipped for fertility, marital felicity, and devotion to the spouse, asceticism and power. Navratri is the season in which all nine forms of Parvati are worshiped. Durga, Shakti, and Kali are also worshiped during Navratri. The festival of Teej celebrates married life and family ties. It also celebrates the onset of the monsoon. Unmarried maidens pray to Goddess Parvati for a suitable groom, while married women pray for the well-being of their husbands. Goddess Parvati is said to be fond of all flowers offered to Lord Shiva. Apart from them, Champa, Bela/Mogra, Palash are the flowers that are offered to the Goddess.

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