Parvati is the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion; and also determination. She is a manifestation of Shakti, the divine feminine energy of the universe. She is the wife of Shiva, the supreme being. She is the mother of Skanda, the god of war, and Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. She is usually depicted alongside Shiva with two arms, holding one lotus. Or, she is represented alone, with four arms, holding two lotuses. Parvati is worshiped for help with marriage, parenting, and fertility.
The Story of 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.
Everyday, 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.