Siva and Parvati both have several distinct aspects / facets. They are seen as loving, caring, and forgiving on the one hand (Pasupati, Parameswarar, Parvati, Uma, Gauri), aggressive, destructive and terrifying on the other (Bhairavar, Rudra, Sarabhar, Shakti, Durga, Kali), and everything in the middle! Devotees worship all these types of personas.
However, they are also regarded as the primordial couple, and the story of their marriage(s) is one for the ages. Here we take a look at some of the stories and temples associated with the marriage of Siva and Parvati.
1. Links that are not temple-specific will take you to all pages associated with that particular topic.
2. Not all temples have complete web pages devoted to them – some of these are work in progress.
3. For ease of loading, this article has been split into 3 pages.)
Siva and Sati
Dakshayani (or Sati) was the daughter of Daksha, one of the prajapatis or agents of creation. The name Sati itself derives from sat, which could mean truth, righteousness, and nobility. According to the Devi Bhagavata Puranam and Mahabhagavata Puranam, Sati was born when Daksha and his wife Prasuti mediated upon Adi Parasakti, for the Great Goddess to incarnate herself as their daughter.
From a very young age, Sati adored Lord Siva and became his ardent devotee. Over time, she became intent on marrying Siva (which, according to Brahma, would get the Lord to engage in worldly matters), much to her father Daksha’s disapproval. She undertook various hardships, and eventually Lord Siva acceded to her wishes and married her, which further annoyed Daksha.
Later, Lord Siva was not invited to Daksha’s yagam, the prime motive of which was to insult Siva. Uninvited, Sati attended the yagam much against Lord Siva’s wishes, but eventually ended up immolating herself after observing the disrespect shown by her father to her husband. (Kootiyur in Kerala and Draksharamam in Andhra Pradesh, among others, are considered the sites of Daksha’s yagam.)
At this, Veerabhadrar issued from an angry Siva, destroyed the yagam, and decapitated Daksha (this is according to Linga Puranam and Bhagavata Puranam; other puranams state differently), as a result of which Daksha had to take on the head of a goat as a replacement.
Daksha’s decapitation is considered one of the eight veerattams (victorious dances) of Lord Siva, and is the principal sthala puranam associated with the Veeratteswarar temple at Tiruparasalur (Tiruparayalur) near Mayiladuthurai.
Siva and Parvati
Lord Siva was grief-stricken on the loss of Sati, and was subsequently convinced by Lord Vishnu to stop carrying Sati’s body around with him all the time. Siva withdrew from creation and engrossed Himself in deep meditation.
Parvati (or Haimavati) was the daughter of Himavan, the god of the Himalayas, who like Sati, underwent many austerities and penances to beget Lord Siva as Her husband. Desperate, she even invoked Kama to help her cause, but Lord Siva destroyed him by burning him with His third eye. The Veeratteswarar temple at Korukkai is associated with this incident – Kama Dahanam. (Rati, the consort of Kama, prayed to Abatsahayeswarar at nearby Ponnur, and Kama was restored.)
Other gods, including Lord Vishnu, finally got Siva to realise that He needed to engage with creation, and therefore get married. While Parvati was a ready bride, Siva tested her in devotion in many ways before finally consenting.
Himavan and his wife Mainavati had not seen the groom, and were hoping he was smart and handsome enough to be married to their beautiful daughter. So Lord Siva decided to play one of his “games” to disabuse them of the notion of beauty. As part of the procession to Himavan’s place, He sent various deities, each of whom Himavan and Mainavati mistook to be their prospective son-in-law. At last, Lord Siva himself got there, in the garb of an ascetic, hair unkempt, wearing a tiger skin as his wedding attire and a snake as his necklace, surrounded by ganas who were causing all sorts of mayhem. The in-laws-to-be were shaken, and asked Parvati if she undertook so much effort for this. Of course, this was just a test, and after Lord Vishnu was able to disabuse them of their notions, Lord Siva emerged in his splendour and handsome form, as Sundareswarar!
Who are His antecedents?
It is customary in many wedding traditions for the ancestry of the bride and groom to be declared publicly. When the time came for this during the wedding, Himavan – as per stated procedure – announced Parvati’s lineage and then asked for Siva’s lineage to be declared. There was absolute silence.
Himavan felt disgraced – how could he give his daughter’s hand in marriage to someone with nobody to speak for Him? He expressed his disappointment loudly. To this, Narada stepped forward and twanged a string on the veena he carried with him at all times. Himavan was further annoyed at what he considered to be Narada insulting him.
Then, Narada explained that the twang of the instrument represented the primordial sounds with which Siva is associated – He has no ancestry and lineage. He is Swayambhu! Himavan understood the divinity of the bridegroom, and the wedding was then completed.
North Indian legends believe that the Triguninarayan temple, located north of Sonprayag in Uttarakhand, is the place where Siva and Parvati’s wedding was held. Also, according to those legends, Maha Sivaratri is the night of Lord Siva and Parvati’s wedding.