Yesterday was Kumara Sasthi, a day special for Lord Karthikeya, who is also known as Kumara, Muruga or Subramanya.
|Muruga at Enkann Temple near Thiruvarur|
Among the legends of Karthikeya is the story of how he, as a child, asked Lord Brahma the meaning of the word 'Om'. Brahma, affronted at the idea of such a question from a small child, ignored him. The young Subramanya imprisoned the creator, and creation came to a stand still. The Gods were aghast, and searched for the cause, which led them to the abode of Shiva. Shiva reprimanded Muruga, and asked him to release Brahma at once. Muruga refused, explaining that Brahma did not know the meaning of the word Om, and thus did not deserve to be the creator. Shiva was stunned, and asked the child if he knew the meaning himself. Muruga replied that he did know, but if Shiva wanted him to explain, he would have to take the place of a student, and give him (Muruga) the place of a teacher. Shiva agreed, and Muruga explained to him, the meaning of Om. Shiva and Brahma humbly accepted that the child was right, and blessed him. This legend is associated with the temple at Swamimalai, near Thanjavur, and is the story I grew up hearing.
However, there is another version of the same story, one where Brahma is imprisoned, and then released at the instigation of the Gods. However, Muruga has to pay a price for imprisoning the creator. He is transformed into a snake, and disappears from Kailas. Parvati is upset at her son's disappearance, and prays for her son to be restored to his former glory. After weeks of dedicated prayers, her efforts bear fruit and Muruga appears before her in the form of a snake. The other gods appear too, invoked by the power of Parvati's prayer, and in front of them all, Muruga is restored to his original form. This story is associated with the temple of Kukke Subramanya near Mangalore, and this day is celebrated as Kumara Sashthi with great pomp and splendor.
Next door to our house is a temple managed by the Kukke Subramanya Mutt, and every year, this festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The celebrations begin almost a week in advance, but for 3 whole days (including the days before and after Kumara Sashti) we wake up to the sound of Panchavadhyams and go to bed amidst the clanging of the temple bells! Year before last, I had posted about the Lord taking a tour of our colony during the Kumara Sashti procession, and today, I bring you a video of the procession as well as a few photos....
|Firecrackers lit up the night!|
|These were certainly the highlight of the procession!|
|And some more!|