Day 4:54 pm

  • Skandha Sashti

    The sixth day of the lunar cycle in the tamil month of Karthigai is celebrated as Skanda Sashti, a festival dedicated to Lord Muruga, the younger son of Lord Shiva. This festival commemorates the great event Soorasumhaaram or the slaying of the demon Soorapadman by Muruga in the form of Skanda, slayer of demons and vanquisher of evil.

    In Tiruvannamalai, the big temple of Arunachaleswara celebrates this festival in a very popular and dramatic manner. The battle of  Soorasamharam (destruction of Sooran) takes place at nightfall on the day of Skanda Sashti. Now Skandha  in the form of Arumugam or Shanmukham with six heads and twelve arms goes out in an impressive procession from the big temple after having, earlier, received the sacred weapon (a bow and arrow) from his mother, the Goddess Unnamulaiyamman. First he makes a festive a tour of the four streets around the temple collecting a crowd of devotees everywhere. He then wields his way in the northern direction preceded by the temple elephant and accompanied by his retinue of priests, musicians and devotees.

    The procession passes the Durga temple and then stops in front of the Vada Subramanya temple a few metres before the town bus depot. At this place, Lord Muruga is assailed by the demon coming from the North (like all asuras). This is enacted in the form of a giant wooden doll placed on a cart with wheels which comes whizzing down the slope pushed by men from behind. The asura Sooran thus attacks Lord Muruga three times and Skanda wields his bow and lets fly an arrow to strike him each time. After each hit, the head of the Asura changes significantly.

    The last head is the Maamarasura, with the head of a mango tree. At the end, the Asura undergoes a change of heart, repents his misdeeds and to signify this, his head is altered into a peacock and a rooster head, being the two mounts of Lord Muruga. The Asura Sooran then pays obeisance to the Lord and thus the festival ends but not without a grand display of fireworks to the delight and cheer of the audience.

    continue reading