hinduism today april/may/june, 2010
Who is Skanda?
Skanda is a God of many attributes, oftendepicted as six-faced and twelve-armed.Saivite Hindus hail this supreme warrior,the commander-in-chief of the great armyof devas, or beings of light, a fearless defend-er of righteousness. They honor Him as themystic healer of ailments and master of yoga,guiding those who persevere on enlighten-ment’s path. Legends say He was the
rst torenounce the world and step onto the pathof kundalini yoga. God Siva bestowed uponHis son Skanda dominion over the chakrasof willpower, direct cognition, and the pur-est, child-like divine love. Murugan is thetutelary Deity of the Tamil community.
How is Skanda Sashti celebrated?
It is considered meritorious to undertakea six-day fast, known as the Skanda SashtiVrata, or vow, in empathy for Skanda’s titanicstruggle. Many abstain from all foods, whilesome permit themselves fruits and simple,unsalted foods. Following immediately afterDiwali, the fast is an ideal antidote to thatfestival’s feasting, revelry and overindulging.On the day the fast is broken, families enjoya sweet pudding called
along withfried delicacies. A six-part prayer for pro-tection, called the Skanda Sashti Kavacham,is chanted. Six is a number associated with
Approaching the Lord of Illumination
kanda Sashti is a six-day South Indian festival toSkanda, the Lord of Religious Striving, also known asMurugan or Karttikeya. It begins on the day after thenew moon in the month of Karttika (October/November)with chariot processions and pujas invoking His protec-tion and grace. The festival honors Skanda’s receiving Hislance, or
, of spiritual illumination, and culminates in avictory celebration of spiritual light over darkness on the
nal day. Penance, austerity, fasting and devout worshipare especially fruitful during this sacred time.
hinduism todays. rajam