Vaikasi Visakam is the day of incarnation of Lord Muruga. This occasion remains to be an extraordinary day for Muruga worship. Vaikasi Visakam occurs when the full Moon coincides with the auspicious Vishaka star during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May–June) and is celebrated with piety and enthusiasm.
Muruga is said to have appeared from the flame that emerged out of the third eye of Lord Shiva, principally for annihilating evil and establishing Dharma, the righteousness, on earth.
Muruga is the divine son of the supreme God Shiva and the holy mother, Parvati. He is a unique God, a rare combination of high valor and supreme intelligence, and his worship can bestow people with strength, self-confidence, and success. Devotees can offer him prayers, chant hymns in his praise and observe austerities on any day and especially on Vaikasi Visakam, and seek his divine blessings.
History and Legend behind Vaikasi Visakam
India is a land of festivals, and every one of these has its mythological background and historical significance. Vaikasi Visakam is no exception. It is Skanda Purana, the religious text that gives a detailed legend on the birth of Muruga on the Vaikasi Visakam day and his exploits.
Once, there lived three Asura brothers, Surapadma, Singamuha, and Taraka, who began harassing the worlds. They also did intense penance, obtained many boons, became quite powerful and started committing atrocities even on Gods. As the living beings took refuge in Lord Shiva, the compassionate God opened his third eye and released a blazing flame out of it. It was carried by the spiritual elements to the holy Ganga, which in turn took this to the sacred pond Saravana Poigai. There, the flame got transformed into six brilliant sparks, and six handsome male babies emerged out of them. While these divine babies were well taken care of by six angels known as Karthigai damsels, universal mother Parvathi very fondly hugged the young ones together, and they all merged into a single form with six heads and twelve hands, as Muruga. Thus, the Lord, called in many other names such as Shanmuga, Karthikeyan, Subramanya, Skanda, emerged on the Vishaka star day of Purnima, the full Moon in the month of Vaikasi. This day of his birth is celebrated with fervor as Vaikasi Visakam.
Muruga then set out on his mission of ridding the universe of the evil forces. Armed with the divine Vel, the lance, provided to him by Parvati, he led an army of celestial beings against the mighty demons and fought and subdued them. It is said that this battle took place in the coastal town of Thiruchendur and Taraka was destroyed in Thirupporur. Muruga was however compassionate towards a repentant Surapadma, converted him into a peacock and a rooster, and accepted both of them, the former as his vehicle and the latter as his flag. The Lord got the resounding victory on a Shasti, the 6th day of the waxing moon in the Tamil month of Aippasi (October–November) and that occasion is observed as Skanda Sashti.
Vaikasi Visakam Celebrations
This day of birth of the Lord is observed with great religious fervor at homes and in temples. Special worships, poojas, abhishekams, alankarams, and austerities form part of such celebrations. People recite hymns like Skanda Shasti Kavacham, Subramanya Bhujangam, Thiruppugazh in praise of Muruga and make offerings like sweet Pongal. Some undertake fasting on the day. Devotees also visit temples on Vaikasi Visakam, offer prayers to Muruga and participate in the special poojas performed. Many also carry milk pots, kavadis to his temples, while some pierce their faces, tongues, and body with Vels (lances) and go on Padayatra to his abodes, by covering the entire distance on foot.
Big celebrations take place in Muruga temples, where Brahmotsavam, the grand annual festival is also celebrated during this time.