According to legend,
Shiva had become despondent over the death of his
wife, so he turned to the life of a hermit. He sat
concentrating his energies until he turned into a
pillar of fire. The gods became worried over this, and
begged the mother goddess Shakti for help.
In response, the goddess
took the form of Parvati, princess of the mountains,
and sought to win Shiva's heart with the help of Kama,
god of love. But when Kama shot his love-dart at
Shiva, Shiva opened his third eye, let loose a fiery
missile and reduced him to ashes.
Parvati then took on the
life of a hermit as well, and mortified her body
through austerities that won Shiva's admiration, and
he accepted her as his consort. Inspired by Parvati's
beauty, Shiva made music and began to dance.