Kartikeya is a complex, mysterious, powerful spirit. Under the name Skanda or Murugan, he is the most beloved deity in modern southern India.

Kartikeya is lord of war and patron of thieves but also a great yogi, brilliant philosopher and masterful spiritual adept. Karttikeya is usually described as the son of Shiva and Parvati but variations of his myth exist. Ganesha is his brother.

Kartikeya means “related to the Krittikas” and refers to the six Krittikas, the goddesses who raised him. In one version, they find and raise the baby. In another version, Karttikeya is the result when six of the wives of the Cosmic Seers unknowingly conceive when they bathe in a river in which Shiva’s sperm has fallen.

Subramanian, one of Karttikeya’s names, means “dear to the Brahmins” and yet in southern India and Sri Lanka, Kartikeya is associated with intensely shamanic rites. Fire-walking is practiced in his major Sri Lankan shrine.

Request Karttikeya’s blessings and assistance:

• Before traveling, especially abroad

• Before academic or entrance exams

• For protection

• For enhanced business

• To avert or eliminate personal or family troubles and disasters

Karttikeya goes by a number of names including Murugan, Subramanian, Skanda, Kataragama and Kumara. All the names may refer to the same spirit. Alternatively, various local spirits have been absorbed into the Hindu pantheon by identifying them as the son of Shiva and Parvati. This may also account for Karttikeya’s very different behavior in different parts of India and Sri Lanka.

Favoured people:

Karttikeya often Demonstrates interest in people by bestowing locks: their hair suddenly, abruptly forms locks.


Karttikeya takes many forms. He may have six heads. His hair may form six locks (one lock per face). He is usually depicted with four arms. In his wrathful form, Karttikeya is a lion-man.


Frequently depicted in the company of his two wives and/or mounted on his peacock


Spear; lance

Consorts: Devasena and Valli



Karttikeya has two wives in South India but is eternally celibate in the north.








Many of his devotees adopt a vegetarian diet and abstain from alcohol; traditional offerings to Karttikeya include milk, fruit; cooked rice, boiled black lentils

See Also:

  • Ganesha;
  • Hanuman;
  • Korravai;
  • Parvati;
  • Shiva


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.