“What are you doing?”

What was most amazing was that the voice was able to infiltrate the many layers of Parvati’s meditation. Unable to ignore the question, Parvati slowly opened her eyes.

“Meditation.” Her terse reply was meant to drive away this new companion.

“What for?”

Clearly, he was not to be deterred.

“This is the only way to reach Lord Shiva, god of gods, the greatest of all beings. He is my lord, and I want him as my husband. He is the only one who I will share my life with. For this reason, I’ve come here hoping to win his favor.” Parvati sighed. She would never catch Mahadev’s attention in the midst of these distractions. But she also could not dishonor a guest. She thought to soften her curt response.

“Please bless me.” She requested with a slight smile.

He began to laugh, and she began to glare.

“Foolish girl. Go marry someone else. You could marry any one of the devas. You aren’t at a loss for beauty. Why Shiva? Matted hair, smeared with ashes, reclusive, uncouth, ill-mannered and unmanageable. This  is what you want? Like shunning jewels for glass or casting off sandalwood in favor of mud. Shiva has nothing and can give you nothing--”

“Enough!” Her eyes blazed and her chest heaved with the impact of his insults. Like an injured and angry cobra, she spat venom in the form of innumerable angry glances at the unknown traveller. “A person who does not know the greatness of Lord Shiva is definitely the most unfortunate person in the entire universe. My heart is as fixed as the himalayan mountains from which I was born. What do I care for any of your criticisms? My heart has found its love, and nothing you will say can sway me. Before you ignite my anger, better that I leave this place and your ignorant company.”

His hand caught the weather-worn cotton cloth that trailed behind her. Whirling on him, she wondered who had the audacity to put his hands on her. If he came any closer, she would give up her life. She wouldn’t be touched by anyone other than her lord. Seething with anger she faced the traveller, her eyes filled with fury.

Her anger died the moment she laid eyes on him. The thick bangles that encircled his ankles, the tiger skin wrapped around his waist, the matted hair that hung down his back, and the rough rudraksha beads that bound his strong arms. She knew it all as intimately as she knew herself. She had memorized every detail. She had installed his deity within the temple of her heart. But this deity was holding the end of her cotton sari.

“Graceful Parvati.” Her name had never sounded so beautiful before. His voice was thunder and music. It was the very essence of sound. “Where are you going? Were you not just praying for me? Don’t be so cruel and forsake me now.” He took a step closer. Her heart raced that much faster. “You have won. I am yours. Command me. Ask for anything and it shall be yours.” His words were nectar, his smile; intoxicating.

She drank him in to her full satisfaction, and just as she felt the first flush of a shy blush creep up her cheeks, she lowered her eyes and finally found her voice. Who was she to command him? She wanted to recite a thousand prayers, but could only utter two words.

Marry me.”

Married with the greatest pomp and circumstance the universe had ever seen, Lord Shiva took Parvati Devi as his wife. Her beauty bloomed as her heart expanded with love for Mahadev. Adorning her forehead with the symbol of the moon which resembled a bell, she was known as Chandraghanta.

Brilliant goddess, whose kind face and loving eyes forever attract the heart of Mahadev, the greatest of vaishnavas, all glories unto you. The sound of your bell removes all inauspiciousness, and you are forever the valiant protector of your devotees. You can instill devotion in the heart and bring peace to the soul. Please guard my heart as I journey forward on the path of bhakti.