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Skanda Sashti Festival at Tiruchendur

In October 2011 I had the chance to witness the important Skanda Sashti festival at Tiruchendur. The background and the procedure of the festival is the following:
According to Kanda Puranam (the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts), once three asuras (celestial demonic beings) Surapadman, Singamugasuran and Tharakasuran (which are but the three evils in man: Anava/Ego, Mâyâ/Illusion, and Kanma/Anger) were causing great troubles to the celestial Devas. The extermination of these evil forces, especially the fight against Surapadman, by Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] is yearly celebrated by the Skanda Sashti festival in October/November. The festival at Tiruchendur lasts six days, commencing on the sixth day of the waning moon of the month. The climax of Skanda Sashti is on the sixth day when the 'Destruction of the Titan' (Surasamharam) takes place. The events leading to the defeat of Surapadman are demonstrated on the seashore on the evening of the Sashti-day by actual representations of the several transformations of the asura and of his defeat every time. (cf. http://tiruchendur.org )
The different manifestations are:
1st: Gajamukha, the 'elephant-faced' titan,
2nd: Simhamukha, the 'lion-faced' titan,
3rd: the demon Surapadman himself. After his defeat
4th: a live cock is put on the asura's body. Some say this is the evil spirit of Surapadman that has to be destroyed in the end as well. Finally the cock, the Lord's banner-symbol, is fixed on Lord Subramanyam`s [Murugan`s] spear.

For a detailed description of the fight of Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] with the manifestations of the demon see: murugan.org/temples/tiruchendur2.htm
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Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Sri Senthil Andavar, Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] Temple in Tiruchendur.
Sri Senthil Andavar, Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] Temple in Tiruchendur.
Pilgrims waiting to get to the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Subramanyam [Murugan] temple.
Pilgrims waiting to get to the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Subramanyam [Murugan] temple.
Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] has emerged from His Skanda Sashti Mandapam. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] has emerged from His Skanda Sashti Mandapam. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] surrounded by devotees. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] surrounded by devotees. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam´s [Murugan`s] spears. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam´s [Murugan`s] spears. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Elephant-faced titan Gajamukha. 1st manifestation of Surapadman. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Elephant-faced titan Gajamukha. 1st manifestation of Surapadman. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Gajamukha, 1st manifestation of Surapadman, approaches Lord Murugan. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Gajamukha, 1st manifestation of Surapadman, approaches Lord Murugan. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Gajamukha, 1st manifestation of Surapadman, approaches Lord Murugan. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Gajamukha, 1st manifestation of Surapadman, approaches Lord Murugan. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] and the demon face each other. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] and the demon face each other. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
A young priest, representing Lord Subramanyam (Murugan), beheads the demon Gajamukha. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
A young priest, representing Lord Subramanyam (Murugan), beheads the demon Gajamukha. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The demon Gajamukha has been beheaded. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The demon Gajamukha has been beheaded. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
A new head of Simhamukha, the lion-faced demon, is fixed on the asura`s body. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
A new head of Simhamukha, the lion-faced demon, is fixed on the asura`s body. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The fight of Simhamukha and Lord Subramanyam also ends with the beheading of this manifestation. Skanda Sashti, Tiruchendur.
The fight of Simhamukha and Lord Subramanyam also ends with the beheading of this manifestation. Skanda Sashti, Tiruchendur.
The 3rd transformation the demon, Surapadman himself, starts a new attack. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The 3rd transformation the demon, Surapadman himself, starts a new attack. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The demon Surapadman approachesLord Subramanyam [Murugan]. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The demon Surapadman approachesLord Subramanyam [Murugan]. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The demon Surapadman has reached Lord Subramanyam [Murugan]. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The demon Surapadman has reached Lord Subramanyam [Murugan]. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] defeats Surapadman and the demon is beheaded. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Lord Subramanyam [Murugan] defeats Surapadman and the demon is beheaded. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The 4th manifestation, a live cock, is put on the asura`s body. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The 4th manifestation, a live cock, is put on the asura`s body. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The cock, representing the demon`s spirit, starts the final attack. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The cock, representing the demon`s spirit, starts the final attack. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The young priest symbolically kills the cock, the demon`s spirit. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The young priest symbolically kills the cock, the demon`s spirit. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
With the symbolic killing of the cock the  demon is finally completely defeated. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
With the symbolic killing of the cock the demon is finally completely defeated. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The cock, the Lord`s banner-symbol, is fixed on Lord Subramanyam`s [Murugan`s] spear. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
The cock, the Lord`s banner-symbol, is fixed on Lord Subramanyam`s [Murugan`s] spear. Skanda Sashti at Tiruchendur.
Devotee at Skanda Sashti.
Devotee at Skanda Sashti.
Devotee at Skanda Sashti.
Devotee at Skanda Sashti.
Devotee at Skanda Sashti.
Devotee at Skanda Sashti.
Young girl who just got her hair cut in the temple.
Young girl who just got her hair cut in the temple.