Marriage is a sacred bonding. The sacredness of marriage is celebrated in the Hindu culture in various ways. The temples associated with marriage, where mythology states that the marriage of the Lord had taken place, stands testimony to the truth. Here are some of the temples dedicated to Lord Shiva on account of His marriage to Goddess Parvati for the delight of a devout heart.
Parvati given in marriage to Shiva (Kannigadhaanam)
As per the Hindu tradition the bride is given in marriage to the groom surrounded by family and relatives. The bride's hand is given in marriage to the groom by the father, brother or an elderly relative.
This is called as Kanigaadhana.
In this form of marriage, Lord Shiva appears with four arms, His upper arms with the deer symbol (Maan) and a weapon (Malu); one of His lower arm accepting the hand of Parvati and the other indicating blessings or refuge for the devoted souls.
The wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar in Madurai happens to be in this form. Lord Vishnu, the brother of Parvati is seen handing over Her hand in marriage to Shiva, while Goddess Lakshmi, is seen as the bride's companion. Lord Brahma is seen to be performing the Yagna. The wedding is said to have taken place with the bride and the groom being surround by Gods and Rishis. A heavenly sight indeed.
Other temples associated with this form of marriage of the Lord are Thiruvaanmayur and Thiruvengaadu.
Shiva clasping the hand of Parvati (Paani Girahanam)
One of the rituals in a Hindu wedding is the Groom taking the bride's hand in a clasp, while mantras are being recited. This is termed as Paani Girahanam in classical Tamil. 'Paani' meaning 'hand' and 'Girahanam' meaning 'holding'.
Shiva temples of Thirumanancheri, Thiruvaarur, Thiruvaavaduthurai, Vaelvikudi, Koneri, Rajapuram present the Lord and the Goddess in this form of marriage.
Shiva and Parvati going around the sacred fire. (Valam varudhal)
Another important ritual in the Hindu wedding ceremony is circumambulating the sacrificial fire. It is said that the couple going around the sacred fire is symbolic of circumambulating the three worlds.
Lord Shiva and Parvati going around the sacred fire is said to have been a spectacular sight. It is said that Nagaraaja led the couple holding a lamp with thousand different flames, with Goddess Lakshmi also leading the couple and Goddess Saraswati singing divine songs. The Lord takes this form in the temples of Achudhamangalam Shivalaya Goshtam and Kanchi Kayilaayanaadhar temple. The Lord is celebrated as 'Kalyanasundareswarar'
Shiva and Parvati in (Paalikaavisarjanam) marriage ritual
One of the rituals associated with the Hindu wedding customs is to get certain grains to sprout like Green gram, gingli, mustard seeds, rice and urad. Lord Surya, Lord Brahma and Lord Yama are symbolised in the special, sacred containers that hold them. This ritual also involves the worship of Lord Chandra.
The bride and groom involve in growing these sprout seedlings in five, seven or nine days prior to the wedding ceremony. On the day of the wedding these sprout seedlings are placed in front of the dais or carried by young women when the groom and the bride go round the sacred wedding dais.
Lord Shiva and Parvati present themselves in this form in the temple of Thiruveelimilalai. He is worshiped here as 'Maapillai Swamy' literally translated into English as the 'Groom God'
Shiva & Parvati in the form of bestowing blessings (Varadhana Kolam)
In the culmination of the wedding rituals, Lord Shiva and Parvati are said to be seated in a high platform bestowing blessings and boons to the swarming devotees.
Lord Shiva and Parvati are said to be in this form in the Sanctom Sanctorum of the temples of Vedharanyam, Nallur, Idumbaavanam and Thiruvaerkaadu, Shri Uma Maheshwar temple in Kollam, Kerala etc.
Seeking and worshipping Shiva and Parvati with faith in these temples bestows marital bliss amongst wedded couples, a good husband for unmarried girls and good wives for unmarried men.
While the devout heart melts in Bhakti or devotion listening to the tales of the Lord, the sacred union of Shiva and Parvati in marriage has a spiritual connotation. While Shiva stands for the 'Absolute truth' Parvati stands for the 'Manifested truth'. The merging of the Manifested Truth with the Absolute Truth results in self realisation, the ultimate spiritual goal.
So let us seek the blessings of Shiva and Parvati for the happiness of marital life and the bliss of realising one's own self.