In the tales of Puranas and Upnishads much joy comes in seeing Gods dealing with humdrum situations like mortals. When consorts throw tantrums, children are up to mischief, and the God husbands must make difficult decisions to keep peace in the house. Swami often points out that Sanatana dharma texts keep the humour element intact in the narratives. One story that is complete with elements befitting a good comedy-drama is Shiva Parvati Vivaha. Today is Shivratri, and Swami narrated the tale  (in the evening) amidst a lot of laughter in the prayer hall.

This tale celebrates the Chandraghanta swaroop of Devi Parvati. She adorns a crescent moon on her head and mounts a lion or a tiger. This aspect of Devi is prayed to on the third day of Navadurga Sadhana. In her many hands, Ma Chandraghanta carries a trident, a mace, a sword, a kamandalu, a lotus, a bow, and an arrow. Two of her hands are shown in Varadamudra and abhaya mudra, respectively. Symbolizing fearlessness and courage, she is also known as Ranna Chandi, owing to her preparedness for war. Devi Chandraghanta is the married form of Goddess Parvati. It is said that on the wedding day, seated on his steed, Nandi, Lord Shiva, was marching towards the Himalayas. The wedding procession was one of its kind with the ganas, Brahma, Vishnu, the Devas, as well as ghosts, demons, ghouls, and social outcasts. Lord Shiva’s all-encompassing affection knows no discrimination. Naturally, everyone who loved him joined the wedding party. The sky reverberated with all sorts of heart-rending sounds made by his entourage. To top it all, the bridegroom decided to come in his most natural self: matted hair, a snake coiled around his neck, a trident in hand, and tiger skin barely covering his yogic body. He was in an inebriated state and moved joyously to the merry sounds of the procession. Clearly, he was in the mood to have fun.

Can you then blame the palpitating Maina Devi, Goddess Parvati’s mother, who almost fainted on seeing her prospective son-in-law and his august retinue? Goddess Parvati, the sagacious daughter, sensed that the matter was slipping out of hand and took charge. She appeared as Goddess Chandraghanta before Lord Shiva and requested him to put an end to the histrionics and manifest in his pleasant form for her mother’s sake. Lord Shiva acquiesced and transformed himself into ‘Chandrashekhara,’ the most handsome and well-dressed God ever seen. Everyone was mesmerised, including Goddess Parvati’s parents, who thought that they had hit the jackpot.

kalyan sundara: a statue in ellora caves depicting the marriage of shiva and parvati and shiva in his charming swaroopa

I had a hearty laugh on reading this story. How familiar are the reactions of Goddess Parvati, her mother as well as Shiva! It’s so easy to find earthly parallels in a diplomatic daughter, a nervous mother, and a socially inept but loving husband. It is interesting to note that Devi Chandraghanta does not care for Shiva’s appearance. She accepts him as-is; however, requests him to come in a form more appealing and acceptable.

Replete with all elements of drama, the wedding of Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati is a popular theme in folk songs and classical music alike. Happy Mahashivaratri to my lovely family. May we always seek and find the grace of Shiva-Parvati.

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