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Valentine and Kamadeva, the Indian Cupid

Valentine and Kamadeva, the Indian Cupid

The most delightful season of the year, Spring is here! And I could not be more excited. As the flowers have started blooming in my backyard garden, I can sense the arrival of the day-of-love just around the corner. Don’t you?

Valentine and the Indian Cupid

Valentine’s day often gets connected with the Cupid — Roman God of Love, and Eros — Greek God of Love. And considering that Valentine’s day is a Westernised concept, this is understandable. But the Spring season in India is known for the accomplishes of the Indian Love God. Thus, we are going to step out of the cliched valentine story and talk about something that is not much conversed about. The Indian Cupid Manmatha, or popularly known as Kamadeva, and his female counterpart, Rati.

The earliest reference of Kamadeva and Rati can be found in the Rigveda. In literary terms, he is described as a handsome young man, who rides a parrot, and carries bow and arrow as his weapon. Mythological weapons are known for its magical powers. These were used during the battles between the good and evil, but Kamadeva’s weapon did something completely contradictory. It was a weapon used to make two people fall in love.

How does Kamadeva operate?

The description of his weapon is also quite interesting. As described in the Rigveda, the bow is made of sugarcane, and honey-bees make up the bowstring. He has five different arrows, each consisting of a different flower, and is used for different purposes. The five flowers used in the arrows are – White lotus, Blue lotus, Jasmine, Ashoka tree flower and Mango tree flower.

The five arrows are also known to be targeted at different parts of the body, and results in five following consequences:

  1. The one that is aimed for the head – This arrow causes one to lose their mind in love and to fall head over heels for the other person;
  2. The one that is aimed at the eyes – This arrow causes hallucination;
  3. The one that is aimed for the lips – This arrow makes one cry out of joy and excitement;
  4. The one that is aimed for the heart – This arrow causes initial joy and cheerfulness;
  5. The one that can be aimed for any body part – This arrow can be aimed for any body part, and if strikes the target, then causes the person to just get subsumed by love.

The stories of Kamadeva can be very engaging and interesting as his stories are very different from any other God’s mentioned in Indian mythology. However, the mention of the God of Love is very limited in Indian mythology.

The only popular story surrounding Kamadeva is about the time when he had struck Lord Shiva with his arrow, while Parvati — daughter of the mountain king — was trying to receive his benevolence. As Lord Shiva’s meditation was disturbed, he cursed Kamadeva. It’s only after the happy alliance of Shiva and Parvati, Kamadeva was brought back to life. But even then, there has been very bare minimum mention of the Lord of God.

But as minor, as it may seem, the Indian Cupid plays a meaningful role in the alliance of Lord Shiva and Parvati, and thus in the Indian mythology as a whole.

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