Significance of Skanda Sashti
Skanda Sashti corresponds to the birth day of Lord Kartikeya or Subramanya also called as Muruga in Tamil. Skanda Sashti is the sixth day (Sashti Tithi) of the Shuklapaksha in the month of Kartika (October – November). Lord Skanda is one of the popular names of Subramanya and therefore the event is called as Skanda Sashti. On Skanda Sashti people observe fasting to propitiate Lord Subramanya. Grand celebrations happen in the temples of Muruga in Tamilnadu.
The background of Skanda’s birth
Once there were three demons named Surapadma, Simhamukha and Tarakasura. These three created havoc in the three worlds and troubled all the gods and humans. Surapadma had secured some great boons from Lord Shiva that none else than Shiva’s own power would be able to kill him. The boon made the demon and his brother highly arrogant and they tortured anyone and everyone in the universe.
Gods approach Lord Brahma
In an utterly helpless situation, the gods approached Lord Brahma for help. Lord Brahma said none else than the power born out of Shia’s will power can annihilate the demon. However, the task of taking the matter to Lord Shiva was a tough one since Lord Shiva was engaged in a severe penance. In order to bring Lord Shiva out of His penance, they approach Manmata, the god of love.
Manmata is burnt to ashes
Manmata approached the meditating Lord and released his arrows that would create amorous feelings in people. The Lord was woken up by the arrow and in a great fit of anger, Lord Shiva burnt Manmata to ashes and later rescued him in response to the prayers of gods. The gods pleaded Lord Shiva to give birth to his power to vanquish the demon Surapadma. The merciful Lord consented to do so.
The birth of Skanda or Kartikeya
Lord Shiva released six sparks from his third eye that were immensely hot. These sparks entered the cooling waters of the Saravana River and manifested into six children of divine charm. Six damsels named as Kartika sisters nurtured the baby to growth. Once, Mother Parvati visited the six children growing in the pond and embraced them all at once. All the six babies now merged into one with six faces and thus Skanda was born.
The incomparable child
The divine child Skanda was a matchless one. He had the knowledge of everything and none was required to teach him anything. He was the embodiment of wisdom and perfection. He was so loving and compassionate too. He had the thorough knowledge of warfare. Mother Parvati gifted the child with a lance which is also called as Vel in Tamil. The child was valiant enough to march at once with his assistants to wage a war against the deadly demon and his brothers.
Skanda vanquishes the demons
On his way to Veera Mahendrapur, the city of the demon Surapadma, Skanda killed his brothers Simhamukha and Tarakasura. There was a fierce battle between the lord and Surapadma. In all his mercy, Lord Skanda severed the body of Surapadma into two with his lance and a peacock and cock came out of him. The peacock became the vehicle of Lord Skanda and the cock entered his flag to sing the Lord’s praises.
The festival of Skanda Sashti
The festival of Skanda Sashti is a ten days long event in Tamil Nadu and some other states. In the temple for Lord Subramanya located in Tiruchendur, a grand festival is celebrated on these days and to conclude the festival the event of Sura Samhar or the killing of the demons by Lord Skanda is enacted to this day. Devotees throng to witness this grand event and seek the blessings of Lord Skanda.