On the fifth day of Navaratri, Maa Skandamata is worshipped. She represents the motherly love and strength embodied in the divine. Maa Skandamata is the name given to the sacred form of the goddess, which is a combination Skanda (Skanda/स्कन्द) and Mata (Mātā/माता), meaning mother of Lord Skanda who is also popularly known as Lord Kartikey (Kārtikey/कार्तिकेय) and Lord Murugan (Murugān/मुरुगण).
She is depicted with four hands, with the upper ones gracefully holding lotus flowers that symbolize purity and devotion. One of her lower hands grants blessings while the other cradles Lord Kartikey in her lap, and she mounts the lion. Maa Skandamata is often portrayed seated on a lotus, earning her the name Padmasini (Padmāsinī/पद्मासिनी). Worshipping this divine form of Maa Skandamata invokes her blessings and extends veneration to Lord Kartikey, who rests on her lap, making this occasion doubly auspicious. She is also revered as the Devi who grants knowledge and wisdom to her devotees.
Rituals and Worship of Maa Skandamata
Start the day by refreshingly bathing and wearing fresh, clean clothes. Show your reverence to Maa Skandamata by offering her fragrant flowers, sacred threads, and the vibrant vermillion powder known as kumkum. A significant part of this worship involves presenting a selection of sweets and five different types of fruits, especially bananas and kheer, as Maa Skandamata prefers them. This careful observation of rituals expresses your deep-seated devotion to the divine mother and her kind blessings.
Maa Skandamata: Extraordinary Tale of the Birth of Lord Kartikeya
In the Puranas, there is a fascinating story about the birth of Lord Kartikeya, the commandor of the devatas (gods). After the self-immolation of Sati, Lord Shiva, her husband, retreated into deep meditation, cutting himself off from worldly affairs. Meanwhile, the gods faced a grave threat as the asuras (demons), led by Tarakasura, mercilessly attacked them. Tarakasura had been fortified by a boon that he would be defeated only by the offspring of Lord Shiva, but the Lord had no children from Sati. In his meditative state, it seemed impossible for the gods to fulfil their hope. Desperate, the gods sought Lord Vishnu's guidance, who informed them that Sati had reincarnated as Parvati, and they should focus their efforts on bringing Shiva and Parvati together to produce a divine heir. Sage Narada also advised Parvati to undertake rigorous penance to win over Shiva's heart. Parvati engaged in an unwavering penance that lasted for ages until Shiva and Parvati finally united in sacred matrimony.
The combined energy of this divine couple possessed the potential to annihilate the universe. A cosmic event occurred during their union, and Shiva unintentionally spilt his seed on the earth. Agni dev was then entrusted with the task of safeguarding the divine seed, but the heat of the seed became unbearable for him. Therefore, he passed it on to Ganga, who placed it in the Saravana forest. Maa Parvati then took the form of a sacred water body and incubated the seed of Shiva, giving birth to Lord Kartikeya. He was later discovered adrift in the waters by the six Kritikas (star clusters) and lovingly adopted, hence the name Kartikeya, "son of Kritikas."
Kartikeya displayed outstanding qualities such as handsomeness, intelligence, and bravery as he grew. He is also called Kumara, which means youthful and unmarried boy in Sanskrit. Under the wise guidance of Lord Brahma, Kartikeya began his education. However, his insatiable thirst for knowledge made him question the true meaning of "Om." Although Brahma explained it in 12 thousand verses, Kartikeya's quest continued. He then approached his father, Lord Shiva, and learned the profound meaning of "Om" in 12 lakh verses, but his desire for deeper understanding persisted. Finally, Kartikeya distilled the essence of "Om" into 12 core verses. Impressed by his wisdom and courage, the gods appointed him as their commander-in-chief. Lord Kartikeya defeated Tarakasura in a legendary battle, freeing the gods from the fear of demons.
Maa Skandamata, the mother of Lord Kartikeya, is worshipped as a symbol of motherhood. Her veneration bestowed intelligence and wisdom upon her devotees, honouring the courage of Kartikeya and the affection of his mother, Parvati.