Parvati (“daughter of the mountain”) is a powerful goddess in her own right, known for her asceticism that captured the attention of Shiva. As the consort of Shiva, she occupies many places: as the cosmic force who establishes order; as the benevolent and gentle Uma; as the embodiment of the supreme divine being’s female aspect, along with Shiva as the male aspect. Parvati is also the mother of the beloved elephant-headed god Ganesha and his brother Skanda.
In paintings depicting Shiva in his aspect as the ideal householder (grihastha, or married family man), Parvati is represented as the model of a virtuous and devoted wife. Here, assisted by her sons, she is busy in the domestic setting of Shiva’s home on Mount Kailasa, sifting, grinding, and heating ingredients for preparing soma, the nectar of immortality.
(Object label from Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting.)