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In Hinduism, Kartikeya (also Murugan, Subrahmanya, Skanda, Kumaran, Swaminanda) is a deity born out of a magical spark created by Shiva. There are several legends surrounding his birth.

According to some legends, Shiva's spark was so bright and luminous that only Agni, god of Fire, could carry it. Agni deposited the spark, according to Shiva's directions, in the Ganga river. Ganga then nourished the spark, causing a living being, Kartikeya, to spring from it.

According to a legend, popular with Tamils, Shiva let out a stream of fire from his third eye on his forehead, that split into six streams. Each landed on a lotus in a lake called "Saravana Poigai". Six women, called "Karthigai Pengal" saw the babies and each took one with her to look after. On the day of Karthigai, Parvati united the six children into a six-headed child. This is also the origin of the name of the deity. Apart from the festival of Karthigai, the Thaipusam festival, celebrated by Tamil communities worldwide, commemorates the day he was given a vel (lance) by his mother Parvati in order to vanquish the evil demon Soorapadam.

Due to the confusion resulting from these myths, he is regarded either as a son of Shiva and Parvati, or of Agni and any of Svaha or Ganga. Kartikeya is the god of masculinity, war and leader of the armies of the gods. Tamil legends say he married two deities, Valli and Devayani. However, other Hindu legends he is unmarried, and call him "Kumaraswami" where "Kumara" means a bachelor.

Kartikeya rides a peacock and wields a bow and arrow in battle. The flag of his army depicts a cock.

Early Hinduism | Hinduism | Hindu Philosophy
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