Skanda Sashti is dedicated to Lord Muruga , Subramanya Shashti, or Skanda Sashti, during Shukla Paksha of Margashirsh month (November – December) is observed mainly in Tamil Naduand parts of Andhra Pradesh.
Skanda Shasti celebrates the victory of Lord Skanda over demon Surapadma. Tamilians, especially Muruga devotees, around world observe fasting for six days before the festival. It is a major festival in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, other parts of South India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa.
Son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the divine incarnation of Skanda was to primarily annihilate the demons that had created anarchy on earth and restore Dharma. He was the commander of the army of the Devas.
A six day battle took place with Demon Surapadma and on the sixth day Muruga killed Skanda killed Demon Surapadma (Soorasamharam) with his ‘Vel’ or lance.
Legend has it that Muchukunda, a King South India, was advised by saint Vasishta regarding the correct observances of the Skanda Sashti Vratam.
After observing the Vrata, King Muchukunda became powerful and famous and the fame of his kingdom spread around the three worlds. It is said that the King became so powerful that Lord Indra (the king of demi-gods) took his help to defeat Asuras.
The fasting of Skanda Shasti begins on the Pradma Thithi after Deepavali in Tamil Nadu. The first day after the Amavasi that follows Deepavali. During the fasting period, devotees confine to a single meal. Some people only fast on the Soorasamharam day. The fasting ends with the Tirukalyanam on the next day.
Skanda Shasti festival like most other Hindu festivals celebrates the victory of good over evil. Skanda is also known as Lord Muruga, Subramanya, Kartikeaya and Kartik. Skanda Puranam narrates the origin of Kanda Sashti fasting.
According to Skanda Puranam, the longest of the 18 Mahapuranas, the demons under the leadership of Surapadma, Simhamukha and Tarakasura defeated the Devas and took over the earth. They found immense pleasure in torturing the Devas and humans. They went on a massive rampage and destroyed anything that belonged to Devas.
Surapadma had got the boon that only a son of Shiva will kill him. The demon had thought that Shiva who had gone into deep meditation after death of Goddess Sati will never return to earthly life.
Devas took refuge at the feet of Lord Shiva but Shiva was in deep meditation. On the advice of Lord Brahma, Devas took the help of Kamdev or Manmatha to incite sexual desire in Shiva. Kamdev succeeded in his mission but an angry Shiva burnt him into ashes.
The semen that got emanated from Shiva got divided into six parts and was deposited in the Ganga. Goddess Gangadeposited the six parts in a forest and it assumed the form of six children. The children were looked after by the six Karthikai stars. Later, Goddess Parvati combined the six babies into one. Therefore Lord Muruga is depicted differently sometimes with one face and two arms, sometimes with six faces and twelve arms and in some places with single face and four arms.
The demons continued their rampage and Soorapadman held son of Lord Indira and many other saints and devas as captives. Lord Subramanya soon adorned the role of general of Devas and decided to annihilate the demons. He soon defeated the demons.
In the final battle, Lord Muruga killed Soorapadman with his ‘Vel’ and this act of the Lord is known as Soorasamharam. The main Skanda Shasti festival is held on this day.
The famous ‘Vetri Vel’ chanting that takes place on the Shasti day is associated with the victory of Skanda over Soorapadman.
Before beginning any Hindu puja try to create a calm and pleasant atmosphere. Try to keep all the puja items near you.
Puja Items Needed
- Small murti (idol) or picture of Ganesha
- A vel or picture of Lord Subrahmanya
- Sandal Paste, water, turmeric, kumkum, flowers and usual puja items
After bath, clean the puja area.
- First pray to Lord Ganesha for removing all obstacles.
Now the main Puja begins
- First meditate on Lord Muruga – You can do this silently or by chanting Om vali devasena samedha Shri Subrahmanya Swaamine namaha dhyaayaamii
- Now invoke Lord Muruga – Take the idol or picture or Vel and keep it near you or hold it in your hands. You can silently pray to Muruga or chant Om Vali devasena… swaamine namaha aavaahayaamii
- Now you can place the idol in the appropriate place chosen by you in the puja area – you can chant – Om aasanam samarpayaamii
- Now you can sprinkle some water – Om…namaha arghyam
- Now you can pour some water on the feet or near the Vel – Om… namaha paadhyam
- Sprinkle some water again – Om… namaha aachamaniyam
- Now you can sprinkle rose water or usual water –Om… oupachaarika snaanam
- Sprinkle some water again as final purification –Om…snaanaanandharam aachamaniyam
- Now you can offer turmeric paste or if you have special dress for idol you can offer it –Om… vastraartham akshadaam
- Now you can offer Sandal Paste to the Vel or idol – Om gandhaan dhaarayaami
- Now you can do decorations with flowers or garlands – Om…gandhsyopari alankaaranaartham akshadaam
- Now you can offer kum kum – Om…haridraa kumkumam
- Finally, you can offer some flowers –Om…pshpaih poojayaami
Now you can light the lamp and chant Skanda shashti kavacham, Subrahmanya Bhujangam or read Skanda Purana or any tale related to Lord Muruga.
You can also perform archana after lighting the lamp or your usual method of daily puja with camphor and agarbathis.
If you have prepared any food (navediyam) you can offer it to the lord and perform Arathi.
At the end of the Puja you can thank Lord Ganesha for helping in successfully conducting the pooja.
Skanda Shasti, or Kanda Sasti, Vratam is an important observance dedicated to Lord Muruga. It is observed in the Tamil month of Aippasi and most devotees fast during the 6-day period.
There is no common method of Skanda Shasti fasting. Different devotees observe it differently. But there are some basic rules followed by all the devotees.
- Non-vegetarian food is completely avoided during the period.
- Some people also avoid garlic and onions.
- Those who are observing the fast make it a point to read scriptures related to Lord Muruga or recite the Kanta Shasti Kavasam or Subramaniya Bhujangam.
- Most devotees also visit Skanda temples during the period.
- When it comes to Kanda Shasti fasting, some devotees only take a single meal a day.
- Some take the meal at noon and others at night.
- Some devotees confine to fruits and juices during the 6-day period.
There are several Skanda devotees who see the Vratam as an opportunity to clean the body and get rid of unwanted toxic elements. Such devotees confine to water, coconut water and other fruit juices.
The fasting ends on the Sixth day.
It must be noted that ‘Vrat’ or ‘Vratam’ in Sanskrit means ‘vow.’ Vratam should not be misunderstood as mere fasting. By observing a Vratam a person is trying to purify his mind through meditation, worship and by sticking to some ‘vow’ that he/she has taken. Now, this vow can include fasting, not telling lies, not getting anger etc. A vratam should be seen as a deliberate attempt on your part to bring back discipline into your life.
Fasting should be voluntary and it should not be done unwillingly. If you are taking medicines, do not observe intense fasting and stick to the routine suggested by your doctor.
Shasti Vratam or Upvaas is an important fast dedicated to Lord Muruga or Kartikeya. There are two Shastis in a Hindu lunar month. One Shasthi after Amavasya and another after Purnima (Pournami). The Shasti coming after Amavasya (new moon night) is the one meant for fasting. In simple terms, the Shasti coming during the increasing or growing phase of the moon. Lord Muruga is also known as Subramanian or Skanda or Kanda.
How to observe Shasti Vratam?
The Shasti fasting begins with sunrise. The fast is broken on the next day morning after praying to Lord Surya (Sun God).
Most people observing the fast make it a point to visitMurugan Temple on this day.
It is a complete fast in many places. But this might not be quite possible for many people due to job, health and other reasons. So many people take some sort of vegetarian food on this day – this is usually a single meal in the afternoon or night.
Many people opt for a fruit diet on the day. Some avoid solid food.
In several Kerala Muruga temples, many devotees eat a single rice meal at noon given from the temple. The cooked rice is consumed without any major side dishes.
The method of fasting differs from region to region. But all non-vegetarian food is avoided on the day.
Devotees listen to stories related to Skanda and reading of Skanda Purana. Another activity during the day is the reciting of Kanta Shasti Kavasam.
Fasting is not just abstaining from food but it also an attempt to instill positive thoughts. Many people use fasting as a means to fight against anger, lust, impatience and other negative tendencies. All Vratas associated with Hindu religion is an attempt to realize the Brahman.
You may also like to readHow to observe Skanda Shasti Fasting
Posted by Abhilash Rajendran on Sunday, November 08, 2015
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