The word Skanda refers to a lot of things like a learned person, a prince, the act of effusion and the attacker. In reference to Skanda Sashti, the “attacker” or more precisely Lord Kartikeya, the Hindu god fits right. He is referred to as Skanda for he is believed to be the ‘commander of the Gods’ or the ‘Lord of war and victory’. Skanda Sashti or Kanda Sashti is a celebration of the defeat of demon Tarakasura by the deity and it is observed on sixth day (Sashti) of Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight). Though the main festival is observed on the said Tithi during the Tamil month of Aippasi, the monthly fasts are also considered significant. The people fast and pray to the Lord with Puja Samagri and Puja Patra on this day.
The Avatar of the Skanda:
The story related to Skanda Sashti is about a war that Kartikeya is revered for. As per mythology, Brahma suggested that only Shiva can produce the slayer of Tarakasura, the demon who wreaked havoc in the celestial and human world. However, Shiva was in the state of Samadhi and no one could afford to invoke his rage. But Paravati and Kamadev agreed to help through strict penance and striking the arrow of love respectively. Kamadeva was burnt into ashes by the fire of rage emitted from third eye of Shiva. However his sacrifice and Parvati’s devotion paid off and the fiery seeds emanated from the Shiva. The seeds got transferred from mouth of Agni and Ganges into the Sara Vana, which was a forest of grasses resembling arrows.
The seeds took the form of six babies raised by six stars of Karthikai or the divine constellation. Parvati later combined the six babies into Shanmukha or one having six faces. Murugan assumed the role of General of the Army against Tarakasura, Simhamukha, Surapadma and defeated them in a battle which lasted for six days. The annihilation of the demons with Shakti Velam (divine Vela gifted by Parvati) called Soorasamharam and it as on the Tithi of Aippasi Skanda Sashti.
The Vidhi of Skanda Sashti Puja:
The day when Panchami conjugates with Sashti Tithi is considered the more auspicious for Vrat. The fast is observed strictly or by consuming vegetarian meal once during the day. Listening to the stories of Skanda Purana, visiting temples or praying at home reciting the Kanda Sashti Kavasam are other practises of the devotees on this day. The fast is not done only to abstain from food but to cleanse the anomalies in inner self.
The Puja is done by beginning with a prayer to Lord Ganesha and then chanting Om vali devasena samedha Shri Subrahmanya Swaamine namaha dhyaayaamii while meditating. The prayer may be offered to a Vel or a picture of the Subramanya along with Samagri like turmeric paste, sandal paste, flowers, Kumkum and lighting a lamp, Agarbatthi and with camphor. Worshippers may buy online Diya for Puja and also the Puja Kits or Puja Samagri from online Puja stores.
The Various Names and Regions of Worship:
Kartikeya is the name of the son of Shiva and the name is prevalent in the Hindu belts of India. In Tamil Nadu, He is known by the Murugan and also known as Tamil Kadavu or the ‘God of the Tamils’. In fact, there is a sect in Hinduism called Kaumaran dedicated to the deity. The devotees of the Murugan have exist in all other areas of Tamil influences like Puducherry, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Mauritius, etc. He is also prayed in Kerala, Karnataka and other regions of South India. Subramanya, Guha, Shanmukha, Velayudhan, Kumaresa, Dandapani, Swaminatha are the other names of the deity believed to be a divine form with six-faces and carrying a lance in hand.
The most important six shrines known as Arupadaiveedu are located in various regions of Tamil Nadu. Apart from these, Kerala, Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, even Sri Lanka and Malaysia have shrines dedicated to Him. There is a tradition of carrying a Kavadi or having rice, milk, etc. in Puja Patra or going through physical piercings as offerings to Lord Muruga by Tamils on the day in reverence to the God.