Famous Deities of Himachal :
Shiva is one of the gods of the Trinity. He is said to be the god of destruction. Shiva is believed to be at the core of the centrifugal force of the universe, because of his responsibility for death and destruction. But Shiva dissolves in order to create, since death is the medium for rebirth into a new life. So the opposites of life and death and creation and destruction both reside in his character.
Shakti (also known as Durga) :
The Goddess Durga, also known as Parvati , is the wife of Lord Shiva. Parvati represents prakriti or nature, which means perishable matter, in the absence of which true and complete destruction by Shiva becomes impossible. (As we are all aware of today, only biodegradable matter can be destroyed). This could possibly be the meaning of the idea that Shiva becomes nothing in the absence of Shakti. Durga has two famous sons, Kartikeya and Ganesh. Durga exists in various divine forms. One of her most fiercely powerful forms is Kali (goddess of destruction ).
Lord Vishnu is known as the preserver and redeemer of the universe and its laws. He is shown as the sleeping figure who dreams of the universe, thereby keeping it in existence. Lord Vishnu fulfills this role through acts performed in both the cosmic and physical world. His two front arms signify his activity in the physical world and his two back arms represent his endeavors in the spiritual world.
The word Lakshmi is derived from the word Laksmi or goal. As the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi helps believers obtain their worldly and spiritual goals. Lakshmi is usually depicted with four arms and hands. Her hands typically hold objects such as gold coins or other bounty to symbolize wealth. In pictures she often wears red to signify her constant state of action toward completion of her prosperity objectives. Vishnu, the god of righteousness and cosmic laws, is Lakshmi’s eternal companion. She is often situated next to Ganesh the god of luck and good fortune.
Ganesh is the son of the Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati (also known as Durga). He is the god of good luck and prosperity. Placement of Ganesh statues near entryways is believed to help ward off malicious parties. Ganesh is also commonly seen in countless other areas. A salute to Ganesh is believed to ensure that all endeavors and journeys can be completed without obstacle. A mouse or rat is often pictured with Ganesh. The rat keeps near in hopes of capturing some of the food bounty associated with Ganesh’s prosperity. As the promoter of good fortune, Ganesh is often paired with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
To fulfill the duties of his cosmic position Lord Vishnu must often participate in worldly affairs. In some cases he must incarnate himself as a man or beast and descend upon earth to set matters right. Lord Krishna is Vishnu’s eighth and most complete (i.e. a full incarnation of Lord Vishnu) incarnation. Of Vishnu’s 10 incarnations, Krishna is likely the most popular. As an earthly child, Krishna spent time with gopas and gopis (cowherd boys and girls). He often danced with the gopis in the forest to the playing of his own flute. Such dancing symbolizes the union of the human and divine. Krishna’s main objective on earth was to help eliminate greed and establish the positive qualities of romance and righteousness. Krishna is also called the god of life.
Hanuman, lord of the apes, was born as the son of Anjana. In her first life (at the time she was known as Punjkasthala) Anjana was a beautiful nymph until a punishment in the heavenly courts turned her into a vanara, half human and half monkey. As part of Anjana’s path to forgiveness Lord Shiva blessed her with an incarnation of himself, Hanuman. Since Pavan, the wind god, helped secure Hanuman’s birth he became his godfather. Hanuman is worshiped for his strength, agility, and valor. He was a key warrior under Sri Rama in the battles against Ravana. To this day worship of Sri Rama is not complete without also worshiping Hanuman.
As the goddess of learning, knowledge, and wisdom, Saraswati is the divine consort of Lord Brahma, the creator. The name Saraswati is derived from the Sankrit words sara (meaning essence) and swa (meaning self). Thus Saraswati means “the essence of the self”. Many believe that ones self-essence can be found through the use of knowledge and wisdom. Saraswati is often depicted holding a musical instrument and a book. With her position as the goddess of learning the symbolism behind the book is fairly obvious, however, the musical instrument is a little more difficult. The musical instrument symbolizes the necessity of tuning in ones mind to learn and obtain the knowledge needed to reach harmony in the world.
Kali appeared for the first time to defeat the evil demon Raktabija. Raktabija was on a path of destruction in the heavens and on earth. Each time an attempt was made on his life, his drops of blood transformed into additional Raktabija demons. So, Kali descended and began to destroy the Raktabija demons. She utilized her long tongue to catch the Raktabija blood, thus not allowing for the generation of additional demons. In the end Kali was successful and ended the wrath of the Raktabija demons. However, the extreme amounts of Raktabija blood she had to intake in the process caused her to rampage. She consequently crossed the universe killing anyone who came across her path. Lord Shiva is often shown behind the right foot of Kali - It is done as Lord Shiva stopped Kali by lying himself in her way to calm down the extreme anger of Kali and thus protected the world from the devastating power of Shakti.