Skanda Sashti is a Hindu festival that is celebrated on the sixth day of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the lunar month of Kartika (October-November). It is dedicated to Lord Skanda, also known as Murugan, Kartikeya, Subramanya, or Kumara, who is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is the commander-in-chief of the army of gods and the god of war.

Skanda Sashti commemorates the victory of Lord Skanda over the demon Soorapadman and his brothers Tarakasura and Simhamukha. According to legend, these demons had obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that they could only be killed by a son of Lord Shiva. However, Lord Shiva was in deep meditation and did not have any children. The gods requested Goddess Parvati to persuade him to marry her. She performed severe penance and finally won his heart. They got married and conceived a child with their divine energies.

The child was born with six heads and twelve arms. He was named Skanda, meaning “the one who leaps”. He grew up quickly and learned all the arts and sciences from his parents and other gods. He was given a spear (vel) by his mother as his weapon. He also received blessings from other gods like Indra, Agni, Vayu, Varuna, Surya, etc.

Lord Skanda then led the army of gods against Soorapadman and his brothers. He fought bravely for six days and on the sixth day he split Soorapadman into two halves with his vel. One half became a peacock (mayura), which became his mount (vahana), and another half became a rooster (kukkuta), which became his flag (dhwaja). Thus he restored peace and harmony in the universe.

Skanda Sashti is celebrated with great devotion by his devotees in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. They observe fasts for six days starting from Pratipada (the first day) till Sashti (the sixth day). They also perform puja rituals by offering flowers, fruits, milk, honey etc., to Lord Skanda’s idols or pictures. They chant mantras like “Om Saravanabhavaya Namah” or “Om Subramanyaya Namah” or “Om Murugaya Namah”. They also recite hymns like Kanda Sashti Kavacham or Skanda Puranam.

Skanda Sashti is believed to bestow blessings of courage, strength, wisdom, health, wealth and happiness on those who worship Lord Skanda sincerely.