In Hinduism, Kaamadeva is considered to be the God of desire and love. He is Goddess Sri’s son and Pradyumna, the son of Lord Krishna is considered to be the incarnation of Kaamadeva.

The legend of Kaamadeva also has significance behind the celebration of the festival of color, Holi which is one of the main festivals celebrated all over India.

The legend

  • As the famous legend has it, Sati, the wife of Lord Shiva, had jumped into the blazing fire when her father, King Daksha, had disgraced and belittled her husband in front of everyone.
  • On death of his beloved wide, Lord Shiva was devastated. He had given up on all his worldly responsibilities and duties and had started meditating.
  • Meanwhile, the daughter of the Himalaya had fallen for Lord Shiva’s devotion and wanted to make him her husband.
  • However after losing his wife, Lord Shiva had lost all his interest in the worldly relations and affairs and other complications of the world.
  • This made all the other Gods afraid and they were extremely concerned about the consequences.
  • Not being able to find any solution to this problem, all the other Gods had seeked Kaamadeva’s help to bring Shiva back to his own self.
  • Kaamadeva, the God of love, desire and passion, knew that if he ruined Lord Shiva’s meditation, he would have to face the consequences.
  • However for the betterment of the entire world and to put an end to all the complications that were arising, Kaamadeva had accepted to carry out his task.
  • According to the plan, while Lord Shiva was meditating, Kaamadeva had shot his arrow of love at him. As his meditation was broken midway, Lord Shiva had become extremely furious and in order to punish Kaamadeva, he had turned him into ashes.
  • Even though Kaamadeva had to meet his end in the process, his arrow had the desired effect on Shiva and he married Parvati.
  • After sometime, Rati, the wife of Kaamadeva begged Lord Shiva to being her husband back to life and told him that it was a joint plan made by all the Gods.
  • Shiva himself being the incarnation of love accepted her request and brought Kaamadeva back to like. Thus this legend ended on a happy note for everyone.

The celebrations

  • It is believed that Kaamadeva was reduced to ashes on the day of Holi.
  • The South Indian states thus worship Kaamadeva on the day of Holi for his selfless sacrifice and for saving the world from various perils and complications.
  • Kaamadeva is generally portrayed with his bow made out of sugarcane having a line of buzzing honey bees in place of the usual string and the arrows are topped with love and desire which pierces into the human hearts and awakens passion.
  • While worshipping him, people offer mango blossoms to please him and paste of sandalwood to ease to burnt areas and soothe him.
  • Songs depicting his wife’s acute misery on losing her husband are also sung by the people on this day.
  • However in Tamil Nadu, the festival of Holi is also called Kamavilas, Kama-dahanam and Kaman Pandigai which represents the legend of Kaamadeva.