Parvati (Sanskrit: पार्वती (IAST: Pārvatī), Tamil: பார்வதி, Kannada: ಪಾರ್ವತ, Telugu: పార్వతి, Malayalam: പാര്വതി (Parvathy)) is a Hindu goddess. Parvati is Shakti herself, considered as as wife of Parameshwara Shiva, albeit the gentle aspect of that goddess because she is a mother goddess or Parameshwari. Parvati is also considered as the supreme Divine Mother or Lady and all other goddesses are referred to as her incarnations or manifestations. Shaktas consider her as the ultimate Divine Shakti — the embodiment of the total energy of the universe.
In Shaktism she is regarded as Absolute reality i.e. Parambrahman. This means She is God in her nirgun form i.e. Goddess Bhuveneshwari or Adi parashakti, who is dynamic essence of the Formless Static God. She is primary deity in Shaktism just as Lord Krishna is Vaishnava tradition and Lord Shiva in Shavism Tradition.
Parvati is nominally the second consort of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and rejuvenation. However, she is not different from Satī, being the reincarnation of that former consort of Shiva. Parvati is the mother of the gods Ganesha and Skanda (Kartikeya). Some communities also believe her to be the sister of Vishnu and mother of Lakshmi and Saraswati. She is also regarded as the daughter of the Himalayas. Another one of her names is "Sahana". The meaning of Sahana is 'pure', that is, 'pavitra', in Hindi.
Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva, appears with two arms, but when alone, she is shown having four or eight arms, and astride a tiger or lion. Generally considered a benign goddess, Parvati also has wrathful aspects like Durga, Kali, Shitala Devi, Tara, Chandi, and the Mahavidyas as well as benevolent forms like Kathyayini, Mahagauri, Kamalatmika, Bhuvaneshwari, and Lalita.
Birth and Marriage
The Puranas repeatedly tell the tale of Sati's marriage to Shiva against her father Daksha's wishes and her subsequent self-immolation at Daksha's Yajna (fire offering) leaving Shiva grief-stricken and having lost interest in worldly affairs. In Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Sati appears before Shiva, in her divine form, and reassures him that she will return as the daughter of Himavan. Sati is reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavan, and the apsara Menā and is named "Kali", the dark one as per her complexion Sati as well as Parvati are considered manifestations of Mahadevi, the "great Goddess". In Ramayana, the river Ganges is depicted as the elder sister of Parvati; while in Harivamsa Parvati has two younger sisters called Ekaparna and Ekapatala.
Parvati is depicted as interested in Shiva's tales and appearance from her very birth and finally remembering her last life as Sati.As Parvati grew into a young woman, she began tapas (austerities) to please Shiva to grant her wish to reunite with him. She is portrayed as surpassing all other ascetics in penance, undergoing mortifications. Finally, Shiva tests her devotion by sending an attendant or appearing himself in disguise to criticize Shiva. Untouched by the act, Parvati retains her desire for Shiva compelling him to marry her. After the marriage, Parvati moves to Mount Kailash, the residence of Shiva.
Kalidasa's epic Kumarasambhavam ("Birth of Kumara") details with matchlessly lyrical beauty the story of the maiden Parvati; her devotions aimed at gaining the favour of Shiva; the subsequent annihilation of Kamadeva; the consequent fall of the universe into barren lifelessness; the subsequent nuptials, in these circumstances, of the partners of many previous births; the immaculate birth of Skanda (Kumara, Shiva's first son) and the eventual resurrection of Kamadeva after intercession by Parvati to Shiva in his favour.
The depiction of Parvati’s marriage to Shiva, in the Shiva Purana, could be seen as an allegory illustrating the desire of an individual to achieve a state of liberation from strife and banality. If one sets aside, for the moment, the idea of Shiva as a male entity, and sees him instead as representing a state beyond human suffering, then Parvati becomes symbolic of the aspirant who wishes to achieve nirvana, and the story becomes something considerably more than a quaint romantic tale. The acharyas (scholastic saints), who wrote the Puranas, may have interpreted Parvati’s asceticism as a means of winning Shiva’s hand in marriage, in order to discourage young girls from following the goddess’s example, and becoming renunciates. In modern day Hinduism the marriage aspect of this story has been inflated in importance, but the most compelling picture we are left with, is Parvati as an ascetic.
Mother of Ganesha
Though Ganesha considered as son of Shiva and Parvati, the Matsya Purana, Shiva Purana, and Skanda Purana ascribe the birth of Ganesha to Parvati only, without any form of participation of Shiva in Ganesha's birth.
Once, while Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of turmeric paste which she prepared to cleanse her body, and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha obediently followed his mother's orders. After a while Shiva returned and tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was infuriated and severed Ganesha's head with his trishula (trident). When Parvati came out and saw her son's lifeless body, she was very angry and sad. She demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha's life at once. Unfortunately, Shiva's trishula was so powerful that it had hurled Ganesha's head so far off that it could not be found. Finally, an elephant's head was attached to Ganesha's body, bringing him back to life. Still upset, Parvati demanded her son be made head of the celestial armies and worshipped by everyone before beginning any activity, and gods accepted this condition.
Ganesha is identified as a god named after his mother. He is called Umaputra, Parvatisuta, Gaurisuta meaning son of Parvati and Heramba, "mother's beloved (son)".