Skanda Shashti is a Tamil Hindu festival that is observed to honor Lord Skanda, or Muruga, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Shashti is the 6th day of the lunar cycle. Devotees observe a vrat or fast on the full moon day and worship Skanda. Skanda Shashti Viratham, or fasting, is done between sunrise and sunset.
Skanda is one of the most handsome Hindu gods. He exudes a boyish charm but is serious, unlike his happy-go-lucky brother Lord Ganesha. His face has the radiance of the full moon. Skanda was born for a specific mission – to destroy the demon Tarakasura.
Tarakasura had obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that only someone with the strength of Shiva could kill him. Naturally, it could be only the son of Lord Shiva. But as Shiva was grieving for his dead wife, Sati, Tarakasura assumed that Shiva would not remarry and beget a son who would become a threat to his life. But Shiva was not inclined to let Tarakasura go scot-free.
After marrying Parvati, Shiva took her to a cave, and both began to meditate. Soon, a ball of fire that contained their cosmic energies emerged from Shiva’s third eye. Meanwhile, the other Gods sent Agni, the God of fire, to get the ball of fire. But he couldn’t bear the heat of the ball, and he gave it to Goddess Ganga. Ganga, too, couldn’t bear the heat, so she put the fireball in a lake where reeds grew in profusion. Finally, the fireball turned into a baby with six faces – Eesanam, Sathpurusham, Vamadevam, Agoram, Sathyojatham, and Adhomugam. So Skanda is also called Shanmuga or Shadanan. Six maidens, the Karthigai Penngal, took care of him, and hence the name Kartikeya.
Skanda Sashti Significance
Murugan was born from Shiva’s third incarnation. He is the commander of the gods’ army and is the God of Wars. He killed the demon Soorapadman and his brothers, Tarakasura and Simhamukha. Skanda Sashti commemorates his victory. He severed Soorapadman’s head with his divine Vel. Then a peacock and a rooster – appeared from the demon’s head. The rooster turned into a symbol on his banner, and the peacock became his vehicle.
The History Behind Skanda Shasti
Once, three demons called Soorapadman, Simhamukhan, and Tarakasuran, created a reign of terror, harassing the gods and human beings. Soorapadman considered himself invincible as he had a boon from Shiva. Soon, he became a menace to everyone. The devas approached Shiva for a solution to the problem. But Shiva was in deep meditation. The devas then sent Manmatha, the God of Love, to disturb his meditation and make him feel amorous.
Shiva’s meditation was disrupted when Manmathan discharged his arrow of flowers towards him. This angered Shiva, and he opened his third eye, reducing Manmatha to ashes. But after the gods pleaded with him, he revived Manmatha and decided to give birth to a child who would kill the demons.
Six sparks came out of his third eye. They were taken to Saravana Poigai by the God of fire, Agni. Here, the six sparks turned into six boys. The six Karthigai Penngal cared for these infants. When Parvati arrived there and caressed the six boys, they combined into one boy with six faces, twelve hands, and two feet. He was called Kartikeya, and Parvati gifted him many abilities, prowess, and a spear or Vel.
Karthikeyan grew into a philosopher and warrior. He personified wisdom and compassion and was skilled in the art of war. He and his soldiers waged war against Soorapadman and his brothers. He killed Soorapadman’s brothers Simhamukhan and Tarakasuran en route to the demon’s city. A fierce fight ensued between Skanda and Soorapadman, and finally, the demon was killed. Skanda defeated Soorapadma on Sashti. Supposedly, Soorapadman begged the Lord to spare his life. So, Muruga turned him into a peacock which became his vehicle or vahana.
Skanda Shashti Benefits:
According to Vedic texts, worshipping Muruga on Skanda Shasti and observing the Skanda Sashti Vrat has many benefits.
*Unmarried people can find true love
*It can bring success in business
*It can help married couples to strengthen their bonds
*It brings relief from health issues and attracts positivity
*It bestows spiritual bliss, financial prosperity, and success in career
*It bestows progeny blessings
How To Celebrate Skanda Sashti Festival
Skanda Sashti Vrat, once begun, has to be observed for six years or twelve years without a break. People avoid all non-vegetarian food but observe the fast in different ways. For instance, some eat only a single meal a day or take only fruits and milk, while others take only water and coconut water for all six days. Devotees pray, sing bhajans, and recite mantras for six days, which corresponds to the six days of Muruga’s war against the demons. During this period, most devotees stay in Muruga temples. The war against the demons is dramatized in places like Tiruchendur and Tiruparankundram. People also offer Kavadi on the day of Skanda Sashti.