Sunday, 14 December 2014
Shashti devi or devasena maata is the goddess of children
Shashti devi or devasena maata is the goddess of children, venerated as the benefactor and protector of children .She is also the deity of vegetation and reproduction and is believed to bestow children and assist during childbirth. She is often pictured as a motherly figure, riding a cat and nursing one or more infants. She is symbolically represented in a variety of forms, including an earthenware pitcher, a banyan tree or part of it or a red stone beneath such a tree; outdoor spaces termed shashthitala are also consecrated for her worship. The worship of Shashthi is proscribed to occur on the sixth day of each lunar month of the Hindu calendar as well as on the sixth day after a child's birth. Barren women desiring to conceive and mothers seeking to ensure the protection of their children will worship Shashthi and request her blessings and aid. It is believed tahg Shashthi's roots can be traced to Hindu folk traditions. References to this goddess appear in Hindu scriptures as early as 8th and 9th century !in which she is associated with children as well as the Hindu war-god Skanda. Early references consider her a foster-mother of Skanda, but in later texts she is identified with Skanda's consort, Devasena. In some early texts where Shashthi appears as an attendant of Skanda, she is said to cause diseases in the mother and child, and thus needed to be propitiated on the sixth day after childbirth. However, over time, this malignant goddess became seen as the benevolent saviour and bestower of children.