Palani Murugan

Kanda Sashti festival at Palani

Thousands of devotees witnessing the Soorasamharam festival in Palani
Divine culmination of Kanda Sashti: Thousands of devotees attend Soorasamharam festival held in Palani

Sashti or sixth day of the full moon and the sixth day of the new moon are favorite days for Lord Muruga. Several devotees of Muruga observe partial or full fast on each Sashti day and throughout the Kanda Sashti period.

The Sashti falling in on the waxing moon period in the month of Aippasi (October-November) is the day on which Muruga is believed to have killed a super-demon called Sura Padman. This is commemorated in the six-day festival of Kanda Sashti as a symbol of perpetual destruction of evil by God.

Skanda Sasti, the sixth day in the bright half of the month of Aippasi, is celebrated in Saivite temples all over Tamilnadu, and with an extra measure of grandeur in temples dedicated to Subramanya. Skanda Sasti commemorates the destruction of evil by the Supreme General Kartikeya, son of Shiva, and is celebrated with the dramatic enactment of Soora Samhaaram.

Each of these six days is, by custom, set apart to recite the glory of Muruga from one of the six scriptures in His praise—Tirumurukarruppadai, Kandar Kalivenba, Kandar Anubhuti, Kandar Alankārām, Kanda Sashti Kavacam, and Kanda Puranam. Giant-sized images of four asuras are moved on uplifted chariots and these encountered and destroyed by the Lord.

For this festival and for this only, the utsava deity of Chinnakumārar comes down from the hill temple, kills the asuras at four direction corners while on a festive procession round the hill and triumphantly returns to His abode in the hill. This is on the sixth day, i.e. sashti day. All the other events of the festival take place in the hill temple.

On the seventh day, Muruga marries Valli. This divine marriage is celebrated both in the hill temple and in the Periyanāyaki Temple.