Skanda Shashti or Kanda Shashti or Shashti is the unique festival dedicated to Lord Subramanya or Lord Muruga or Kartik. Shashti thithi (lunar day) is the favorite day for Lord Subramanya or Lord Muruga. Every month Shashti is observed on the sixth day of the full moon and the sixth day of the new moon. Annual Shashti is observed in the six sacred bastions (Aaru Patai Vîtukal) of Lord Muruga in Tamil Nadu i.e. Tiruchendur (Sea shore temple near Thirunelveli), Thirupparankunram (temple near Madurai), Palani hill temple (hill temple in Dindigal district), Swami Malai (hill temple near Kumbakonam), Thiruthanigai (hill temple in near Chennai) and Pazhamudhir Solai (hill temple near Madrai). It is also celebrated in Kerala, Karnataka, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa on the sixth day of the new moon after Diwali (During October-November (Tamil month of Aippasi)).
Lord Subramanya: Vedic God
According to Rig Veda Lord Subramanya or Lord Muruga is considered as the overwhelming power. The sage Veda Vyas, compiler of Vedas, has written Skanda Purana (one of the 18 Maha Puranas) on Lord Subramanya or Lord Muruga. In Thirumurukatruppadai, an ancient Sangam (Tamil) literature, the six sacred bastions (Aaru Patai Vîtukal) of Lord Muruga are mentioned. The other important Tamil poems written on Lord Muruga by Tamil sages are available today and they include Kandar Kalivenba, Kandar Anubhuti, Kandar Alankârâm, and Kanda Shashti Kavacam.
Significance of Lord Subramanya
Lord Subramanya or Lord Muruga or Kartik or Skanda is considered as god of love, beauty and knowledge. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati or Uma. In Hindu pantheon Lord Subramanya or Lord Muruga, the handsome god is considered as the symbol of youthfulness, compassion, benevolence and valor. He is the supreme commander of the army of Devas (Deva Senapathi). The object of his birth was to destroy the demons and protect Devas. On the Shashti day Lord Subramanya or Lord Muruga has destroyed Sura Padman, the super-demon. It is believed that the demon Sura Padman was destroyed at Tiruchendur one among the six sacred bastions.
Tiruchendur Sura Samharam Festival
The festival ‘Sura Samharam' is celebrated in Tiruchendur in large scale. The festival takes place on the beach (in front of the temple). On the festival day (Shashti day) the sixth day battle is depicted with the huge images of four demons appear before Lord Muruga on their chariots and the Lord encounter them and destroy one by one by using his Vel or lance. The festival ends with the Divine marriage (Tirukalyanam) between Lord Muruga and Valli on the next day.
Skanda Shashti is also celebrated in Palani, Thirythanigai and all over other temples where Lord Subramanya is the prime deity.
In Sanskrit ‘Vrat' or ‘Vratam' means ‘vow.' Skanda Shashti Vratam or six day fasting is dedicated to Lord Muruga. Some people only fast on Skanda Shashti day. The fasting of Skanda Shashti commences on the Pradma Thithi after Diwali. Some devotees are very particular in observing fast every month during Skanda Shashti. There are variations in observing monthly and annual Shashti. During Skanda Shashti devotees avoid non-vegetarian food. Some other even avoid onion and garlic. Some prefer to take single meal during noon or night after visiting temple. The fasting comes to an end either on the sixth day after Sura Samharam or with the Tirukalyanam on the seventh day.
Skanda Shashti is the festival to commemorate the victory of Lord Subramanya. The victory of Dharma over evil forces and the significance of Lord Subramanya as protector and saviour. The supreme commander of the Deva army fight with the demon Sura Padma and destroys him on the sixth day of the war. is the unique festival that unites all Hindus to obeserve fasting and to recite spiritual literature praising the glory of Lord subramanya. The fasting purifies the body and the recitation purifies the mind.