The Hindu god Kartikeya has many names. He is most commonly referred to as Muruga and is primarily worshiped by the Tamil-speaking people of eastern India. As with other deities, Kartikeya may be revered with statues and shrines in individual homes. Offerings of fruits and flowers may be given. Priests pay homage to him with special rituals and pilgrimages may be made to his temples.
Depictions of Kartikeya
In religious art, Kartikeya is always shown as a very handsome, masculine youth. He carries a spear and a flag emblazoned with the image of a rooster. He rides atop a peacock. According to tradition, he is the son of Lord Siva and the younger brother of Ganesa, who is most often depicted with the head of an elephant.
In ancient times, some isolated groups of Hindus believed that the touch of Kartikeya on their virgin girls troubled them. To appease the god, they created the holiday of Veriyattu. Goats were sacrificed and their blood mixed with white rice, a feast was served, music was played and his flag with the emblem of the rooster was raised and adorned with flowers. The virgin girls wore special dresses and tied red stings around their wrists. They recited prayers for protection from hunger and disease and danced under trees to the beat of a drum.
The Hindu Brahmins, or caste of religious scholars, worship Kartikeya with wet clothing while they bathe. They clasp their palms together and raise them to the sky, while they chant mantras and offer exotic flowers. They may offer prayers to katampu trees, as these are thought to be the seat of the god. They may also burn incense, which floats on the breeze and pleases Kartikeya.
The majority of Hindu practice takes place in the home, in a ritual known as puja. Individuals or families gather around the household shrine and make offerings. Prayers and mantras may also be recited. The deities worshiped have special significance. Kartikeya represents eternal youth and he ranks very high in the Hindu pantheon of gods because of his familial connections.
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