Hindu Tamil Nadu
Legend Of Skanda Sashti
According to legend,Taraka was harassing the devas no end, and they went to Brahma for help. But Brahma had given Taraka a boon, and told the devas that only a son born to Shiva and his devotee Parvati could kill the asura. Since Shiva was in meditation, Brahma asked the devas to get the help of Kama, the God of Love.
Kama agreed to help, and, when Parvati was placing flowers at the feet of Shiva, shot an arrow of passion at Shiva. Shiva was enraged at being disturbed, and burned Kama to ashes with the rays from his third eye. But Kama had accomplished his goal.
Subramanya was born in a reed forest near the River Ganga. Even as a boy, he was made the general of the gods. He engaged the demons Tarakasura, Simhamukha, and Surapadma in battle, and vanquished them on the sixth day. This is the day which is celebrated as Skanda Shashti.
In connection with Skanda Shashti, devotees undertake pilgrimages to the sacred temples of Subramanya, apart from fasts, prayers and special pujas. The six sacred hilltop shrines of Subramanya, known as , witness extensive celebrations and pujas. Thousands of people are fed at the temples.
At many places, scenes of Shoora-samharam, or the killing of the demons, are enacted. Effigies of the demons are taken round the streets in great pomp. In the middle of it, the idol of Lord Subramanya makes its appearance, and the news travels to the demons. There follows a chase. When Subramanya catches up with the demons, a battle ensues. At the end of it, Subramanya kills the demons with his vel, or lance, and there is much celebration all round.
In many places, festivities last for six days, ending on Shashti day. Thousands of devotees carry the kavadi, which is considered the most potent rite undertaken to propitiate Subramanya.
The kavadi comes in various shapes and sizes, but basically consists of two containers with offerings to the lord. The offerings are traditionally collected through begging. Once the required quantity has been collected, the devotee carries it on his shoulder, slung from a wooden stick.
The kavadi is hoisted on the shoulders after a puja, and is to be removed only after the devotee reaches the shrine. Often, the kavadi carrier is considered to be one with the lord while he carries the kavadi.
Besides Skanda Shashti day, the sixth day of all the bright fortnights, all Fridays, and all the Kartika nakshatra days, are observed in the honour of Subramanya.
Lord Subramanya, the Supreme Being, who is the ruler of this universe, who is the indweller of our hearts, who is the second son of Lord Shiva, who is the beloved of Valli and Deivayanai, who bestows boons easily on His devotees, who is an embodiment of power, wisdom, love and bliss.
The mighty demon, Tarakasura, had been oppressing the celestials very much. He drove them out from heaven. All the gods then went to Brahma to appeal for help.
Brahma said to the gods : “O Devas! I cannot Destroy Taraka, as he has obtain My grace through severe penances. But let Me give you a suggestion. Get the help of Cupid, the god of love. Induce him to tempt Lord Shiva who remains absorbed in His Yoga Samadhi. Let Lord Shiva unite with Parvati. A powerful son, Lord Subramanya, will be born to them. This son will destroy the demon that harasses you.”
Indra, the chief of the gods thereupon asked Cupid to go with his wife, Rati, and his companion Vasanta (the season of spring) to Mount Kailas, the abode of Shiva. Cupid carried out the instruction at once, for it was already springtime. Standing behind a tree, Cupid shot his arrow of passion towards Shiva whilst Parvati was placing some flowers in His hands. The moment their hands met, Shiva experienced a distracting feeling. He wondered what it was that disturbed His Yoga. He looked around and saw Cupid crouching behind the tree.
The Lord opened His “third eye”, the inner eye of intuition, and Cupid was burnt to ashes by the fire that emanated from it. This is why the god of love is also called Ananga, which means “bodiless’.
After burning Cupid, the Lord ascertained by His Yogic vision that the birth of Lord Subramanya was absolutely necessary to destroy the powerful Taraka. Shiva’s seed was thrown into fire which, unable to retain it, threw it into the Ganges which in turn threw it into a reed forest. This is where Lord Subramanya was born; and hence he is caned Saravanabhava – “born in a reed-forest”. He became the leader of the celestial hosts and the destroyer of Taraka as Brahma had ordained.
Lord Subramanya is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. All incarnations are manifestations of the one Supreme Lord. Lord Subramanya and Lord Krishna are one.
Lord Krishna says in the Gita; “…of army generals, I am Skanda”.
The Lord manifests Himself from time to time in various names and forms, for the sake of establishing righteousness and subduing the wicked.
Lord Subramanya is a ray born of the Consciousness of Lord Shiva. Valli and Deivananai are His two wives. They represent the power of action and the power of knowledge respectively. He is the easily accessible Godhead in this dark age of ignorance and godlessness. In this He is no different from Hanuman. He bestows material and spiritual prosperity and success in every undertaking of His devotees, even if they show a little devotion to Him. He is worshipped much in South India. Some of His other names are Guha, Muruga, Kumaresa, Kartikeya, shanmukha, Subramanya and Velayadhan.
In the picture, Lord Subramanya holds a spear in His hand, just as Lord Shiva holds the trident. This is an emblem of power. It indicates that He is the Ruler of the universe. His vehicle is the peacock. He rides on it. This signifies that He has conquered pride, egoism and vanity. There is a cobra under His feet which indicates that He is absolutely fearless, immortal and wise. Valli is on His one side, Deivayanai on the other. Sometimes He stands alone with His spear. In this pose He is known as Velayudhan; this is His Nirguna aspect which is free from the illusory power of Nature.
The six heads represent the six rays or attributes, namely, wisdom, dispassion, strength, fame, wealth and divine powers. They indicate that He is the source of the four vedas, the Vedangas and the six schools of philosophy. They also indicate his control over the five organs of knowledge as well as the mind. They denote that He is the Supreme Being with thousands of heads and hands. That His head is turned in all directions signifies He is all-pervading They indicate that He can multiply and assume forms at His will.
There are big temples of Lord Subramanya at Tiruchendur, in Udipi, Palani Hills, Ceylon and Tiruparankundrum. The Lord spent His childhood days in Tiruchendur and took Mahasamadhi at Kathirgamam. If anyone goes to Kathirgamam with faith, devotion and piety, and stays in the temple for two or three days the Lord Himself grants His vision to the devotee. The devotee is filled with rich spiritual experiences. A big festival is held in the temple each year on Skanda Sashti. Thousands of people visit this place. “Mountains” of camphor are burnt on this occasion.
Skanda Sashti falls in November. It is the day on which Lord Subramanya defeated the demon, Taraka. Great festivals are held on this day with great pomp and grandeur. Devotees also do Bhajan and Kirtan on a grand scale. Thousands are fed sumptuously. Many incurable diseases are cured if one visits Palani and worships the Lord there. In South India, Lord Subramanya Lilas are dramatized on stage.
In addition to the Skanda Sashti, devotees of Lord Subramanya observe weekly and monthly days in His honour. Every Friday, or the Kartigai Nakshatram day every month, or the 6th day of the bright for night-all these are consider holy days by devotees. The 6th day of the month of Tulam (October-November) is the most auspicious of them all, This is the Skanda Sashti day.
The famous Nakkerar has composed the Tirumurukatrupadai in His praise. He who studies this famous work daily, with devotion and faith, gets certain success in life, peace and prosperity. The Tiruppugal is another famous book in Tamil which contains the inspiring devotional songs of Arunagirinathar in praise of Lord Subramanya. The Kavadichindu songs are also in praise of the Lord. The Skanda Sashti Kavacham is another famous hymn in praise of Lord Subramanya, and is sung particularly on festive occasions