Sashti Viratham is a discipline observed throughout Tamil Nadu, Kerala and some places of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and in other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Sashti means six; vratham is a vow or rigorous discipline that includes fasting and observation of certain traditional practices. This festival is in honour of Lord Muruga or Subrahmanya, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi and younger brother of Lord Ganesha.
Sashti Viratham is observed on the sixth day of the bright fortnight after the new moon. This vratham is considered most auspicious in the month of Aippasi (October-November). It begins from the first day (prathamai) after the new moon that is associated with Deepavali and concludes on the sixth day after the New Moon.
The Tirunchendur Temple of Lord Muruga, the patron God of Tamizh, is in Tamil Nadu and attracts the largest number of Kanda/Muruga/Subrahmanya devotees during this festival. The festival marks the six day war that was waged between Muruga and Soorapadman. Muruga is empowered by all the Gods to kill the demon Soorapadman, the evil demon. He is given a special weapon, the Vel or spear, by his mother Goddess Parvathi.
Kandan’s Thiruvilaiyaadal (divine sport) against Sooran is enacted on the sixth day of the festival as Soora Samharam, the annihilation of the demon. After the demon is destroyed, he is given the dual honour of becoming the Lord’s vehicle as mayilvahanam, the peacock and the Sevalkodi (the rooster) on Muruga’s flag.
On the final day Kanda’s victory is celebrated with his wedding to Devayani, the daughter of Indra, the King of the gods.