Kartikeya (Sanskrit: , IAST: Krttikeya), also known as Skanda, Kumara, Murugan, Mahasena, Shanmukha and Subrahmanya, is the Hindu god of war. He is a son of Parvati and Shiva, brother of Ganesha, and a god whose life story has many versions in Hinduism. An important deity in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times, Kartikeya is particularly popular and predominantly worshipped in South India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia as Murugan. Kartikeya is an ancient god, traceable to the Vedic era. Archaeological evidence from 1st-century CE and earlier, where he is found with Hindu god Agni (fire), suggest that he was a significant deity in early Hinduism. He is found in many medieval temples all over India, such as at the Ellora Caves and Elephanta Caves. The iconography of Kartikeya varies significantly, he is typically represented as an ever-youthful man, riding or near an Indian Peacock, called Paravani, dressed with weapons sometimes with a rooster in the flag he holds. Most icons show him with one head, but some show him with six heads reflecting the legend surrounding his birth. He grows up quickly into a philosopher-warrior, destroys evil in the form of demon Taraka, teaches the pursuit of ethical life and the theology of Shaiva Siddhanta. He has inspired many poet-saints, such as Arunagirinathar. Kartikeya is found as a primary deity in temples wherever communities of the Tamil people live worldwide, particularly in Tamil Nadu state of India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Runion. Three of the six richest and busiest temples in Tamil Nadu are dedicated to him. The Kataragama temple dedicated to him in Sri Lanka attracts Tamils, Sinhalese people and the Vedda people.
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