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Parvati

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Parvati with Ganesha and a Shiva Linga in the Himalayas
Parvati with Ganesha and a Shiva Linga in the Himalayas

Parvati (also called Uma) is a Hindu goddess or devi of the high Himalaya mountains. To Hindus who worship her, she is the supreme divine mother goddess or mahadevi. She is the consort of Shiva and the mother of the elephant-headed Ganesha and his six-headed brother, Kartikeya (also known as Murugan, Skanda, Subrahmanya, Shadanana, and Kumāra). As Shakti, the source of power of the Hindu male gods or devas, Parvati embodies the creative energy of the universe; in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism she is considered the primary deity.

Parvati and Shiva's divine union represents both asceticism and the blessings of marriage and house holding -- two important themes in Hindu scripture and practices. The Purana scriptural tales tell the story of one of Parvati's manifestations or avatars, Sati, who was born as a boon to a devoutly prayerful man named Daksha. Sati married Shiva against her father's wishes. Sati's father was very proud to have a devi for a daughter, but when he performed a religious rite, he refused to invite Shiva, thinking that Shiva was a disreputable god. Sati swore to avenge the insult and immolated herself in fire as an act of vengeance, leaving Shiva alone, heartbroken, and utterly disengaged from the world. Sati promised Shiva that she would return and she did so by incarnating as Parvati, the daughter of Himavat but by the time she returned, Shiva was so deep in meditation that he paid no heed to her loveliness. Parvati then undertook a series of ascetic feats in order to gain the attention and love of Lord Shiva. As a final test of her sincerity, Shiva appeared dressed as a beggar and mocked the ascetic Lord Shiva. Parvati angrily chastised the man and enumerated how many wonders the God is capable of. At this point Shiva revealed his true self and they lived again in tantric union.

Parvati is often depicted holding a blue lotus, making the mudra or hand gesture that symbolizes fearlessness, and holding one of her children at her knee. Her hair, like Shiva's is usually matted and sometimes in a top knot. Her breasts may be bared which in ancient Indian iconography was something only allowed for the most divine Goddesses. Parvati's eye are often only half open as if she is emerging from a state of meditation and this marks her as different from many of the other devis of Hinduism, who have fully opened eyes. She also wears a sacred thread and in some images carries a rosary, bell, citron, and mirror in each of her four hands. She is associated with the ritual number 9.

Within the Hindu religious tradition, the annual Gauri festival is held in her honor, and Parvati is worshipped as the goddess of the harvest and also as a protector of women; this festival is closely linked with the Chaturthi festival of her son Ganesha, also a protector of women and children.

Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who petition the Hindu gods and goddesses on behalf of clients may work with Parvati in matters of love, harmonious marriage, and marital reconciliation, or to bestow the blessings of cleansing and fertility.

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