Skandha Sashti festival begins on October 20 and ends on October 25.
Kanda Sashti vrata falls in the month of Aippasi in Tamil regional calendar and it starts from the Prathama after the No Moon day. It ends on the Sashti thithi with Soora Samharam.
Lord Murugan is the primary deity who is worshipped on Sashti. We know that Murugan is the child of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi and is known for His valour and wisdom. He is also called Kanda, Swaminathan, Velan and so on. People worship Murugan on Shukla Paksha Sashti thithi, observe vrata and gain His immense grace.
There was an asura called Surapadman who was harassing the people to the core. Through his vigorous penance, he was able to attain lots of boons from Lord Brahma. His brothers Tarakasuran and Singamukan were equally atrocious and all the three together were rocking the entire Universe. They defeated the Devas and deprived Indra of his power.
Unable to bear the tyranny of the Asuras, the Devas pleaded with Brahma to put an end to the harassment of the Asuras. Since He himself had granted boons to Surapadman and Tarakasuran, Brahma was helpless. He directed the Devas to Lord Shiva who was in deep meditation at that time. Brahma advised Kama to drive his arrows on Shiva so as to disturb him in his deep meditation.
As advised by Brahma, Kama sent his arrows upon Lord Shiva and became the object of His anger. Lord Shiva opened His third eye and burnt Kama. The Devas pleaded with Lord Shiva to relieve them of the tyranny imposed upon them by the Asuras.Shiva created six sparks of fire from His third eye and asked Vayu to take those sparks to the river Ganges. The Ganges took these sparks to the Saravana Pond. There, these six sparks turned to six children who were brought up by six Karthigai nymphs.
When the six children were growing up, Goddess Parvathi transformed these six children into one child with six faces. He is the God who is named as Murugan. By the time, the atrocities of the Asuras knew no bounds. Lord Shiva found it the right time to make Murugan His army chief and sent his army with Murugan to fight with Surapadman. Goddess Parvathi gave a lance (Vel) to Murugan. The Vel was a special weapon containing the power of the Goddess Parvathi and was instrumental in the victory of Murugan over Surapadman.
Indira had already sent his son Sayanthan to fight with Surapadman.Sayanthan embraced defeat. Now, it was Murugan who faced Surapadman. First, he conquered Singamugan and then defeated Tarakasuran. The last was Surapadman. He fought bravely with Murugan, but was not able to face the unconquerable valour of Murugan. Unable to bear his defeat, Surapadman changed himself into a mango tree which was split into two by Murugan. The battle took place in Tiruchendur.
While dying, Surapadman pleaded with the Lord to accept the two parts of the tree (his body) as the vehicle and flag of Lord Murugan. Accordingly, one part of the tree became a peacock which turned out to be Murugan’s vehicle. The other part became a cock which turned out to be the flag of the Lord. Thus, Surapadman attained immortal fame after his death. Being pleased with Murugan’s valour and timely help, Indra offered his daughter Devaiyanai to Murugan in marriage.
There are six temples which are known as Arupadaiveedu of Murugan. These six are in Palani, Thiruthani, Tiruchendur, Thiruparankunram, Pazhamudhircholai and Swamimali.Kanda Sashti is celebrated in a grand and extensive manner in these temples. The celebrations start on the Prathama after No Moon day in Aippasi and end on Sashti with Sura samharam. Special prayers, pooja and abhishekams are offered to Lord Murugan on these days. The festival ends with Sura Samharam on Sashti.it is a beautiful display of Lord Murugan defeating Surapadman. The effigies of demons are put to fire and in the end, Murugan emerges in the battlefield with his Vel and kills Surapadman.
Sine the battle took place in Tiruchendur, Kanda Sashti is celebrated in a very grand manner in Tiuchendur.Many devotees visit Tiruchendur and other temples of Murugan with complete devotion and seek His Grace.Kavadi, palkudam and other kinds of penance are part of the celebrations of Knada Sashti festival.
Though the devotees of Lord Murugan observe Sashti vrata on every Shukla paksha Sashti thithi, observing Sashti vrata during Aippasi Kanda Sashti celebrations for 6 days is considered very auspicious.
How to observe Kanda Sashti vrata?
Those who observe Kanda Sashti vrata do not take non- vegetarian food.
It is good to avoid garlic and onion.
Some take a single meal for a day either at night or in the morning.
Some take only fruit, milk and water for all the six days.
Taking bath in the early morning, lighting the lamp before the idol or picture of Murugan, chanting slokas like Kanda Sashti Kavasam, Subramanya Bhujangam and offering neivedhyam are part of observing Kanda Sashti vrata.
Most of the devotees visit temples and offer their prayers to Lord Murugan in the morning or evening during these days.