Kids’ Org.: Vahan of Kartikeya
Children do you know that peacock was declared the National bird of Bharat in 1963, because it is a part of Bharat’s custom and culture and symbolises elegance. Peacocks have been given full protection under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Peacock is portrayed as image of the God of thunder, rains and war, Indra. Much in contrast to the natural phenomenon, the male specie of the bird is much more strikingly stunning than its female counterpart. Peacock is a larger sized bird with a length from bill to tail is about 100 to 115 cm (40 to 46 inches) and to the end of a fully grown train as much as 195 to 225 cm (78 to 90 inches) and weighs 4–6 kg. The females, or peahens, are smaller at around 95 cm (38 inches) in length and weigh 2.75–4 kg
The bird is mostly found in the dry semi-desert grasslands, scrub and deciduous forests and feeds on mainly seeds, but some also eat insects, fruits and reptiles. . Peacock forage on the ground in small groups and usually try to escape on foot through undergrowth and avoid flying, though they fly into tall trees to roost. Peacock feathers are used in many rituals and ornamentation. On seeing the dark clouds, peacock outspreads its tail and starts dancing in rhythmic fashion. Its dance movement has been incorporated in most of the Indian folklore, including Bharatha Natyam. In southern part of Bharat, peacock is considered as a vahan of Lord Kartikeya.
Kartikeya is the Hindu God of War and Victory. He was the army of the devas (gods) and the son of Shiva and Parvati and was created to destroy demons.
Kartikeya is known to be the prtector of good, hence he carries a Vel or the divine spear. His mount is the beautiful national bird of Bharat, the Peacock. He destroyed the terrible asura (demon) Surapadman by hurling the spear at him. The asura was split into two parts, one of which became His mount, and the other, His rooster banner.
There is an interesting story related to Kartikeya and his mount. One day, Shiva and Parvati decided to conduct a competition between their sons, Ganesh and Kartikeya. They asked them to go round the world three times on their respective mounts and declared that the winner would get to have the unique Jnana Pazham (the Fruit of Knowledge). Ganesh mounted his vahan, the mouse and Kartikeya proudly sped off on his own vehicle, the peacock. It was then that Ganesh, being the wiser one, realised merely had to go round his parents three times, and that would be equivalent to going around the world three times. He finished the three rounds quickly enough and got hold of the precious fruit. Kartikeya came back flying on the peacock, confident that he would finish much faster than his brother who would have to travel on a little rat. He was absolutely disappointed and angry when he learnt what had transpired in his absence and, renouncing the world, went off in a huff to Palani, where there stands a sacred temple today. —Aniket Raja