Skanda Shasti is the day when Lord Skanda defeated Taraka Asura. Skanda refers to Lord Skanda. Shasti is the 6th day or tithi of a Paksha, the fourteen day phase of the moon.
The vanquishing of Taraka Asura by Skanda is commemorated on a Shasti day and hence the day is called Skanda Shasti.
Lord Skanda Killing Taraka Asura
The word Skanda in Samskrt means ‘Spill Over’. As per the Purana, the spilled over energy of Shiva was taken in possession by the deva and which took the form of Skanda, the vanquisher of Taraka Asura.
In our Purana, Taraka Asura had secured a vara, boon from Brahma that he should meet his end only at the hands of a son of Shiva. This was a clever boon in the backdrop as Lord Shiva was an unmarried mendicant then, engrossed in meditation. The Asura soon started wrecking havoc all over the world, causing trouble to all. Lord Shiva is persuaded to wed Parvathi, the daughter of the King Himalaya. Skanda is born. He goes on to vanquish Taraka Asura with His Vel, a spear and relieve the Deva and the whole earth from his burden.
Vel – Removal of ignorance
The implement of Skanda is a spear, also called Vel in Tamil language. This spear is not just a war weapon. This Vel is used to remove the veil of ignorance.
Taraka, Cross Over
The word Taraka means to cross over. By overcoming Taraka, we cross over from ignorance to knowledge. Skanda Shasti is venerated as the day Skanda helped us to crossover from ignorance to Knowledge.
Commander of Deva
In a multifacet personality that He is in the Puranic lore, apart from being a Guru who removes ignorance, Skanda was also the commander-in-chief of the Deva, protecting them always from the Asura.
The largest Purana, the Skanda Purna is dedicated to the exploits of Lord Skanda.
Among the Shadmatas, the 6 religions of India, the Kaumara Mata is dedicated to Lord Skanda.
6 Primary Temples
There are 6 primary temples of Murugan in Tamil Nadu.
In Other Countries
There are temples of Skanda in other countries as well.
Murgan Batu Temple, Malaysia
Events on this day
Every year, people across the world, especially in South India, commemorate the victory of Lord Skanda over Taraka Asura on Skanda Shasti by organizing many events in honour of their Lord. The devotees of Lord Skanda enact many plays on the exploits of their Lord. Various hymns in praise of Lord Skanda are recited and hundreds of people join feasts organized by the temples.
Crowd at Skanda Shasti celebrations in Tiruchendur Temple, Tamil Nadu