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The story begins with the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Siva seated in majesty. Four ascetics request them to arrange the marriage of Parvati to Siva for the regeneration of the earth and its beings. As we turn a corner, we see Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, and a five-headed form of Siva that is likely to be Mahesvara, proceeding to the wedding on their respective vahanas, and being ushered by two ascetics.

The next five figures form a very unusual tableau. Mahesvara carries a weighing scale and explains to the sage Agastya that the earth's balance had shifted north because everyone was going to the Himalayas to attend the marriage of Siva and Parvati. Mahesvara requests Agastya to go south of the Vindhyas to restore the earth's balance. He also gives the sage the boon of being able to witness the wedding ceremony whenever he wished to.

A little further, we encounter the wedding guests, beginning with Narada and the horse-headed Tumburu. Then follow the seven Saptarishis, the twelve Adityas, the latter with sun-disk haloes and a single lotus in the left hands, the eleven Rudras, each wielding a trident, and a group of eight siddhas (Saivite saints). All have their right hands raised in praise. Continuing on our pradakshina, on the northern wall, we see the ashtadikpalakas, the gods of the eight directions, beginning with Isana, bearing a trident, and ending with Indra who carries a thunderbolt. Next to Indra is Vishnu, standing in a formal pose of benediction and praise.

Brahma officiates as the priest in the ceremony, ladling ghee into the sacrificial fire. A handsomely ornamented Siva towers over a diminutive Parvati. Her father Himavan, king of the mountains, pours sacred water over Siva's outstretched hand to seal the gift of the bride. The water flows through the hands of Siva and Parvati into the mouth of a waiting Nandi. Next to Himavan, his wife Mena holds aloft a tray of wedding gifts. To Mena's left are the seven Mother Goddesses or Saptamatrikas, holding stalks of sugarcane. You can easily identify Brahmani, who is three-headed, and Varahi, who is shown with the face of a boar.

The story ends very much like it begins. We have a post-wedding procession showing procession of Mahesvara, Brahma, Vishnu and the newly-married couple. And finally, the great gods Mahesvara, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra-Siva are seated in majesty. Only now, sharing Siva's double throne, is his beautiful new bride, Parvati.

Girija Kalyana

Sculptures depicting the marriage of Siva and Parvati, also called Girija, are seen is narrated in a lively low relief panel that wraps around the external wall of the Kamakshi shrine. The figures of the continuous narration are placed at eye level and the story has to be read in a clockwise (pradakshina) progression.