Shiva Maha Purana
Shiva called the seven great sages (saptarshis) and asked them to go to Himalaya as his messengers. The message was that he wished to marry Himalaya’s daughter Parvati. Himalaya was delighted to see the sages and even more delighted to learn that Shiva wanted to marry Parvati. A date was fixed for the marriage.
The day of the marriage dawned. Gandharvas (singers of heaven) sang and apsara (dancers of heaven) danced. All the gods came to Kailasa to accompany Shiva on the procession. Himalaya had also got ready. He had built many gates in front of his house and had placed flags on them. The beauty of Himalaya’s residence at that time is impossible to describe. When the procession arrived at the residence, Parvati’s mother Menaka rushed out.
Let me see Shiva, she exclaimed. Let me see my son-in-law. My daughter Parvati has performed tapasya to obtain Shiva as a husband. He must be exceedingly handsome.
The first person Menaka saw was Vishvavasu, the king of the gandharvas. Vishvavasu was very handsome and, at first, Menaka thought that this was Shiva. But when she was told that this was only a singer who entertained Shiva, she thought that Shiva would be more handsome. Then her eyes fell down on the handsome Kubera, the god of wealth, and she thought that this had to be Shiva. Kubera was more attractive than Vishvavasu. But Menaka was told that this was not Shiva either. Then came Varuna, more attractive than Kubera. But this was not Menaka’s son-in-law. Nor was her son-in-law the great god Yama, handsomer than Varuna. The handsome gods Indra, Surya and Chandra passed by. But Narada told Menaka that these were not Shiva, they were simply Shiva’s servants.
Menaka’s joy knew no bounds. If these were the servants, what was the master going to be like? She mistook Brahma, Vishnu and Brihaspati for Shiva, and each time Narada told her that she was wrong. Where then was Shiva? Finally Shiva came and Narada pointed him out to Menaka. At the sight of her son-in-law, Menaka fell unconscious.
Shiva was surrounded by ghosts on all sides. The faces were fierce, their complexions were dark and they made a tremendous racket. Shiva himself rode on bull. He had three eyes, five faces and ten arms. He was smeared with ashes and the moon adorned his forehead. He was dressed in a tiger’s skin and a garland of skulls hung around his neck. No wonder Menaka fainted.
When she recovered, she began to lament. She scolded Himalaya, Narada and Parvati for her misfortune. Brahma, the other gods, and the sages tried to pacify Menaka. But to no avail.
I will not permit my daughter to be married to Shiva, Menaka said. I will give her poison instead. I will throw her into a well and kill her. I will chop her up into pieces with a weapon. I will hurl her into the sea. I will kill myself. I will get Parvati married to someone else. Not to Shiva.
Parvit resolved, I shall not marry anyone other than Shiva. Is a jackal a fit replacement for a lion?
Vishnu then tried to pacify Menaka. But this did not succeed either. Fianlly Narada asked Shiva to display his beautiful form and Shiva obliged. This form is exhibited only to those who are very faithful to Shiva. Everyone was charmed by this beautiful form, even Menaka. His body shone like a thousand suns and a crown sparkled on his head. His clothes glittered and the lustre of his jewels put the stars to shame.
Menaka begged forgiveness for her foolishness and now there were no further obstacles to the marriage. Under Brahma’s supervision, the marriage ceremony took place and Shiva and Parvati returned to Kailasa.
Shiva and Parvati’s son was Skanada or Kartikeya. When the baby was very small, it got lost in some reeds. Six princesses discovered the baby in the reeds and each wanted to bring up the baby as her own son. All of them finally cooperated in bringing up the body. These princesses were the Krittikas and the boy came to be known as Kartikeya.
The gods got to know from Narada that Kartikeya had been brought up by the Krittikas. They came and appointed Kartikeya their general. The army of gods then invaded Tarakasura’s city Shonitapura. A terrible fight raged for ten days. The gods completely decimated the demons and Katikeya killed Tarakasura.
After the victory celebrations were over, Kartikeya was restored to his parents.