Araṇyaṣaṣṭhī

Festivals and sacred days break the monotony and add zest and colour to the life of the common people. Out of the several festivals of the Hindus, Araṇyaṣaṣṭhī (also called Āraṇyaṣaṣṭhi, Araṇya-gaurī-vrata or Skandaṣaṣṭhī) is perhaps a minor one. Celebrated on the sixth day of the bright half of the month of Jyeṣṭha (around June), it is mainly centred round the worship of Ṣaṣṭhī, the mother of Skanda (also known as Subrahmaṇya and Kārttikeya). Since she is the protectress of children, mothers propitiate her for the well-being of their children. Fasting or subsisting on lotus stalks, bulbous roots and fruits is pre-scribed as a discipline. It is usually performed in a wood or forest outside the village. Hence the name Araṇyaṣaṣṭhī (araṇya = forest). In some parts of India, sons-in-law are invited and entertained with a feast and clothes, thus giving the festival another name, viz., jāmātṛṣaṣṭhī (jāmātṛ = son-in-law).