Lord Kartikeya. The son of Shiva and Parvati. This is how people in India’s northern region mostly know of him. Nevertheless, Kartikeya enjoys immense devotion and popularity in South India, especially Tamil Nadu, where people address him as Lord Murugan. People in countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Malaysia pray to him. The god of war is present as the primary deity in many temples across the globe.
There are different takes on why Murugan became a household name in South India. Some legends say that Kartikeya felt his parents, Shiva and Parvati, were unjust to him. He also didn’t think Ganesha to be worthy of the title Prathampujya (The first one to be worshipped.). He was hurt. So, he left the Kailash Mountains, settling in Palani Hills in the South Indian region. Since then, the south has become his home.
According to author Raman Vardara, Murugan is a Tamil deity who was later adopted by North India. Other historians say that Kartikeya or Murugan is a composite of influences from both the north and south.
Murugan’s influence on Tamil Literature and Culture
Just like Krishna in the north, Murugan is immersed in Tamil culture. Tamilians around the world worship him. The tales of his childhood and the battles he fought are a big part of Tamil literature. No wonder he is considered the god of the Tamil language.
Sangam Literature, an ancient and popular collection of poems, shows Murugan as cēyōṉ (a red god). Korravai (similar to Kali) is identified as his mother.
The devotional poem Tirumurukāṟṟuppaṭai portrayed Murugan as a god with immense beauty, depicting him with six faces and twelve arms. It describes many temples in Tamil Nadu dedicated to him. Many poet and saints such as Arunagirinaadhar were inspired by the war god. They wrote many poems praising him.
He has a great hold on Tamil architecture too. Three of the richest temples in Tamil Nadu are dedicated to him. All the six abodes of Murugan are in the state. They are the holiest sites of Murugan, each one telling a unique story. Thirupparamkunram Murugan Temple is one such temple where people worship him as he worshipped Lord Shiva. On the hill of this temple, Kartikeya is believed to have married Devasena.
Worship of Murugan
Hindus in southern states like Telangana, Karnataka, and Kerala pray to him. Thai Poosam is one such festival of six days where people take out a big procession in his name. In Sri Lanka, too, Buddhist and Sinhalese people worship Kartikeya. There is a famous temple named Katharagama Devalaya dedicated to him in the deep south.
As the commander of gods, Lord Murugan fought many battles. He had seen nothing but bloodshed on the battlefield. He knew that wars couldn’t solve everything. He decided to give up violence.
After one such bloody battle, Murugan bathed his sword in ”Ghati Subramanya” in Karnataka. There, he meditated on the hill later named Kumara Parvatha. Kumara here stands for Kartikeya. Standing still on the top of the mountain, He attained Mahasamadhi.
Murugan is an integral part of South Indian culture. From ancient times his stories have inspired poets, historians, and intellectuals. Thus while exploring Hindu mythology, we must know of Lord Murugan.