Every Hindu temple in India signifies a particular God or goddess and glorifies their personality. It is the richness with which the temples are constructed that speak of the past heritage of this country and how exclusively our traditions have been able to keep them alive till date.
Lord Shiva is a revered God by one and all and people pray to him to give them power to fight against difficulties in life. They pray for their health, wealth and well being and pray god that no obstacle come in the way of their achievements.
Visiting temples is part and parcel of almost every traditional Hindu family and people religiously visit temples on all important occasions, be it their personal occasions like birthdays or on festival days. People visit specific temples based on the specialty of the day.
For example, people visit Subrahmanya temple on the day of Skanda Sashti. It is said to bring immense happiness to people, which can also be considered as inner peace and tranquility. People visit certain temples to also fulfill their needs and seek blessings from god to help them fulfill their desires.
People who want to expand their families pray to god to bless them with a child. The temples quiet often visited for this purpose are Krishna temples, Hanuman temples and Skanda temples.
Most often, people pray to god and give them some offerings in order to please God to bless them with their wishes. If their wish is fulfilled, they come back to the lord and offer many more prayers and special offerings to God.
If we go back and turn the pages in Hindu mythology, we can actually find Skanda described in many different names. Some of his popular names are Karthikeya and Kumara. He is the son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvathy and brother of Lord Ganesh.
It is said that goddess Parvathy gave him a treasure trove of knowledge that turned him into a capable personality. She was the main person behind making him a courageous and fierceful man who is popular as an evil destructor and evil destroyer.
Valli, who was the daughter of a tribal ruler as mentioned in Hindu mythology and Devasena, the daughter of Lord Indra, both married Skanda and became their consorts. Skanda Purana is an ancient Hindu scripture that is dedicated to Lord Subrahmanya.
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Story behind Skanda Sashti
Skanda is popularly known as Subrahmanya or Karthikeya. He has many names across different regions of the country and is popularly called as Murugan in many south Indian temples, especially in Tamil Nadu. Skanda Sashti is celebrated with a lot of greatness and enthusiasm all over the temples of Tamil Nadu.
In general, Skanda Sashti is celebrated to mark Skanda’s victory over evil forces that once sought to destroy humanity. It also marks the victory of Skanda over demons and hence in general, it is celebrated as a day to mark the victory of good over bad.
According to Hindu mythology, a popular story regarding Skanda goes like this. A demon by name Surapadma along with his brothers Simhamukhasura and Taaraka once decided to destroy the goodness on Earth by destroying humans and in general, killing humanity and sought to establish their evil forces and bring them into power.
When all the gods came to know about Surapadma’s plan of action, they were terrified and sought help from Brahma and Vishnu to save the world and humanity from such evil forces. So Brahma and Vishnu while discussing the issue with other Gods told them that the solution lie close to their hands.
It was actually in the hands of Lord Shiva, who was destructor by nature to bring an end to the evil forces. The gods then moved themselves to Lord Shiva’s place, where lord Shiva upon listening to the gods for a while came up with a solution to their problem.
Out of his mystical powers, he gave birth to 6 children, called the Karthika sisters. These six different children later transformed into one being, which we popularly known as Karthikeya or Skanda. Skanda had 6 faces, 12 hands and 2 feet.
It is also said that Skanda’s mother Parvathy was so fond of him that she cared for him so dearly, gave him all her love, taught him worldly matters and gave him enough knowledge to sustain. With all this knowledge, when he grew up to become an adorable young boy, Lord Shiva finally thought it was time for him to take revenge on the demons.
So he sent ward Skanda for the mission. Skanda, a brave boy by then, achieved the task successfully. He was able to kill the demons and converted one of them into a peacock. Peacock later became the vehicle of Skanda.
This is the story behind celebrating Skanda Sashti which marks the fight, valor and courage that Skanda had in fighting the demons and destroyed their evil forces.
Thus he was able to take revenge on them. In this way, Lord Shiva was able to heed to the words of Brahma and Vishnu and wiped out the deadly demons from their very existence.
Procedure of following Skanda Sashti
In many households, people begin fasting as early as six days before the actual day of Shashti. There are certain procedures of fasting that have to be followed in order to celebrate the festival. The food that is cooked also has to be prepared in a certain way and some of the food items are not permitted to be prepared on that day.
People offer food to unmarried Brahmin youths on this day as it is considered auspicious to do so. People sing many prayers to Skanda in praise of him to achieve their wishes and blessings from lord.
Aarti and special puja mark the day. Food is consumed, but with certain restrictions. Different people have different customs of celebrating the festival but the significance of the festival remains the same throughout the country.
The Practice these Days
It can be seen that, people in these modern days, do not find time for themselves, hence in a way they tend to go away from our age old traditions and values.
To keep alive these festivities, people should understand the story and significance behind celebrating any kind of festival and only if they know the true essence of the festival, they would be able to achieve devotion towards it.
Many people in many households do not carry on the practices from their forefathers due to their busy lives. Hence, the same does not carry on to the next generations and eventually the practice goes into history.
All the major festivals are celebrated with greatness, but when it comes to some special festivities like this, people show lack of interest and do not carry forward the legacy of traditions to the next generations.
What happens is, children will start losing interest in our culture and begin to wonder what they actually meant, when they grow up.
They fail to understand what the essence behind celebrating these types of festivals is and instead stick to monotonous, busy schedules. They do not understand the greatness and devotion with which such festivals were kept alive by our forefathers.
Temples dedicated to skanda, also have idols of lord Shiva and goddess Parvathy and we can seek their blessing under one roof. Many temples in India spread awareness among people about the importance of these kinds of festivals and they themselves offer special prasads on such days.
The blessings we seek from lord need to be revived continuously as it is not a one day affair. Only if we visit temples and spread the importance of keeping our traditions alive, will the next generations follow in our footsteps.
If not, India will gradually start losing some of its valuable traditions and faiths and bring in westernized cultures at our doorsteps. Temples of South India celebrate the greatness of skanda in various forms as Murugan and have many religious spots dedicated in his name.
Many devotees follow strict traditions to please the lord. Young boys are brought to Murugan temples to seek blessings of lord to make their children like him.
Parents pray that their young boys achieve a personality that Skanda achieved in his lifetime and the treasure of knowledge he possessed, be gifted to their own children too.