In the meanwhile, the demon Surapadman ravaged the earth and tormented its beings. It was realized by the gods that only the son born of Shiva could lead the gods to victory over Tarakasuran, Surapadman and their demon companions. They plotted with Kamadeva, to shoot a flower arrow at Shiva, as he sat in meditation, so as to make him fall in love with Parvati. When Kama aimed his arrow at Shiva, he opened his third eye and burned him to ashes instantly.
The sparks of the fiery seed of Shiva were unbearable; even the fire God Agni could not bear them; this fire was then transported by the river Ganga into the Sara Vana forest into a pond called Sara Vana Poigai(located at mouths of river Ganga), where the sparks became six children.They were raised by the six Krittika or Kartika - the stars that make up the Pleiades, earning the name Karthikeya. Parvati combined these six babies into one with six faces, ie. Shanmukha. Since he was born in the Sara Vana he was also called Sara Vana Bhavan. Murugan became the supreme general of the devas and led the army of the devas to victory against the demons. The six sites at which Karthikeya sojourned while leading his armies against Surapadman are Tiruttanikai, Swamimalai, Tiruvavinankudi (Palani), Pazhamudirsolai, Tirupparamkunram and Tiruchendur. All these sites have ancient temples glorified by the Tamil poems of Tirumurugaatruppadai of the Sangam period (circa the 3rd century CE)
In the Hindu epics
Early mention in Sangam literature
The Sangam era works in Tamil that refer to Murugan in detail include the Tiru-murukaarupadai, the Tolkapiyam - the earliest Tamil grammar, the Paripadal, the Ahanaanooru and the Puranaanooru.
One poem in the Paripadal describes the veneration of Murugan thus:
"We implore thee not for boons of enjoyment or wealth, But for thy grace beatific, love and virtuous deeds".
Architectural findings of pottery in several places in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere had ideographic inscriptions of this name as far back as 3rd century BCE. According to noted epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan, the ideographs signify a brave warrior capable of killing evil demons to save the devoted.
Lord Muruga was worshipped for giving the meaning of the Pranava Mantra ( OM ) to Lord Shiva himself.
His presence in the religious and cultural sphere can be seen at least from the Gupta age. Two of the Gupta kings, Kumaragupta and Skandagupta were named after him. He is seen in the Gupta sculptures and in the temples of Ellora and Elephanta. As the commander of the divine armies, he became the patron of the ruling classes. His youth, beauty and bravery was much celebrated in the Sanskrit works like the Katha-Saritsagara. The great Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa chose his birth as the subject of one of his epics - Kumaarasambhavam.
In ancient India, he was also regarded as the patron deity of thieves, as can be seen in famed Sanskrit play of Shudraka - Mrichchakatikam (the little clay cart) and the medieval collection of tales,Vetala-panchvimshati. This association is linked to the fact that Kartikeya had dug through the Krauncha mountain to kill the demon Taraka and his brothers. (In Mrichchakatikam, Sarivilaka prays to him before tunnelling into the hero's house)
However, his popularity in North India saw a great erosion from the Middle Ages. He slowly vanished from the scene and is today virtually unknown in these areas. The last vestiges can be seen in Bengal where he is worshipped during the Durga Puja along with Durga or at Achaleshwar, near Batala in Punjab. There is a temple of Skanda on top of the Parvati hill in Pune.
He is married to two deities, Valli, a daughter of a tribal chief and Devasena. However, other Hindu legends state that He is unmarried, and call Him Kumaraswami (or Bachelor God), Kumara meaning a bachelor and Swami meaning God. Muruga rides a peacock and wields a bow in battle. The lance called Vel in Tamil is a weapon closely associated with him. The Vel was given to him by his mother, Parvati, and embodies her energy and power. The flag of his army depicts a rooster. In the war, Shoorapadman was split into two, and each half was granted a boon by Murugan. The halves, thus turned into the peacock (his mount) and the rooster.
As Muruga is worshipped predominantly in South India, many of his names are of Tamil origin. These include Senthil, the red or formidable one; Arumuga, the six-faced one; Guha and Maal-Marugan, the nephew of Vishnu.
Lord Subramanya is the major deity among the Thiyyas of northern Kerala.
Lord Subramanya is worshipped with utmost devotion in districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi in the state of Karnataka. Rituals like nagaradhane are unique to this region.
Order of birth