Why Kantha Sashti is normally 6 days long

By Dr. K.Thilagawathi, Chairman of the Religious Advisory Committee, Malaysian Ceylon Saivaites Association

The thithi, sashti, is auspicious for Lord Muruhan

Amongst the auspicious days for Lord Muruhan, the sashti fast is significant. The days of Kantha Sashti Fast are more significant than the monthly sashti fast. During the days that occur between the pirathamai thithi and the sashti thithi (inclusive of both the thithis), on the bright side of the moon in the month of Aippasi (mid-October to mid-November), it is customary to observe complete fast and conduct the Soorasamhaaram on the day of sashti fast, and to conduct the paarana poojaa and thirukkalyaanam the next day.

Pirathamai means ‘one’; sashti means ‘six’. The Kantha Sashti fast generally lasts for six days. Nevertheless, it is history that this fast lasts for 5 days or 7 days during certain years. As for instance, last year (2013), it was observed for 5 days at Sri Kandaswamy Temple, Jalan Scott, Kuala Lumpur. Why the span of Kantha Sashti fast varies between 5, 6, or 7 days? A day and a thithi are two different measurements of time. The moon is said to wax and wane in subsequent curved layers. The time span for each curved layer (kalai) is known as a thithi. The time span of a day is not identical with that of a thithi. A thithi generally commences in the midst of a day and ends in the midst of the following day. During the Kantha Sashti period in October 2014, each of the six thithi(s) roughly correspond to each of the six days, and therefore the fast spans well for six days, as expected. (Sashti indicates ‘six’.)

Amaavaasai occurs from 5.34 am on Thursday 23.10.2014 till 6.24am on Friday 24.10.2014;  ‘pirathamai’, the first thithi, starts at 6.24 am on Friday 24.10.2014;  therefore the Kantha Sashti fast has to start on 24.10.2014; the fast has to start on the day that the pirathamai thithi occurs. The pirathamai (first) thithi occurs from 6.24am on Friday 24.10.2014 till 6.41 am on Saturday 25.10.2014.

The second thithi (thudhiyai) is from 6.41 am on Saturday till 6.28am on Sunday 26.10.2014; the third thithi (thirudhiyai) occurs from 6.28 am on Sunday 26.10.2014 till 5.47 am on Monday 27.10.2014; the fourth thithi (sadhurtthi) occurs from 5.47 am on Monday 27.10.2014 till 4.37 am on Tuesday 28.10.2014;the fifth thithi (panjami) occurs from 4.37 am on Tuesday 28.10.2014 till 3.05 am on Wednesday 29.10.2014; the sixth thithi (sashti) occurs from 3.05am on Wednesday 29.10.2014 till 1.13 am on Thursday 30.10.2014.

As all the sixth thithis coincide quite well with the six corresponding days, the six day spanned Kantha Sashti Fast is well placed this year (2014).

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