Skanda, a son of Shiva who was begotten without the assistance of a goddess that according to one tradition from the semen produced during the incessant lovemaking between Shiva and Parvati.

He was suckled by the six Krtikas (Pleiades) and developed six faces for this purpose, and has twelve arms.

From this he derives his name Karttikeya by which he is commonly known and worshipped. He was made head of the army of gods, and, according to the Mahabharata, defeated Mahisa and Taraka who through the tapas were threatening the gods.

He is depicted as young and caste, in the personage of Kumara, clothed in red with a spear that always hits its target and returns to his hand.

Also he is seen as “one who jumps” when fighting. His cult of antiquity once covered India, but now is solely in the south.

His consorts include Kaumari, (Devasena) and Valli, and his sons are Sakha, Visakha, and Naigameya. Seen as virile and youthful, to some, his name may signify the emission of seamen.

The peacock and cockerel are among his sacred animals, the latter being both aggressive and a jumper. He may carry a wide assortment of objects and weapons.

His attributes include a banner, cockerel, hatchet, peacock feather, and staff. A.G.H.


Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp. 239-240
Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 906-907