Aranya Shashthi:The Festival of Nature and Fertility

Aranya Shashthi:The Festival of Nature and Fertility

Aranya Shashthi, also known as Aranya Sashti, is a festival that takes place on the sixth day of the waxing phase of the moon in the Bengali month of Jyeshtha (May–June). It is primarily dedicated to the god of nature, as well as the Goddess Shashthi and God Kartikeya. According to popular belief, those who observe Aranya Shashthi will be blessed with children. Actually, Aranya Shashthi is a festival of nature and fertility.



According to legend, there was once a married woman who stole food and falsely blamed it on a cat. In retaliation, the cat stole all the children she gave birth to and placed them in a temple dedicated to Shashthi. Eventually, the woman prayed to the Goddess and was advised to create an image of a cat and worship it alongside the Goddess in order to recover her babies.


During the celebration of Aranya Shashthi, women observe a partial fast and perform pujas (religious rituals) in a forest or under a Kadamba Tree. Goddess Shashthi is worshipped on this day, and offerings are made on a traditional hand-fan. Women typically consume only fruits throughout the day. In some regions, women also tie a thread around their wrists as part of the observance.

The prayers offered on this day include the recitation of the Aranya Suktam from the Rig Veda. In certain western parts of India, a cat is worshipped alongside Goddess Shashthi. All the worship and rituals associated with this day are related to fertility rites, with the aim of seeking the blessing of offspring.

In Bengal, this day is observed as Jamai Shashthi, which is dedicated to celebrating sons-in-law. The festival plays a vital role in strengthening the bond between a couple, particularly the son-in-law (Jamai), and the in-law family, thereby ensuring secure and harmonious family ties. During these festive occasions, all eyes are on the son-in-law, and he relishes the attention and affection showered upon him by his in-laws. Bengalis are renowned for their deep-rooted love for food, and after the completion of customary rituals, a delightful feast is organized. The menu is curated to include the son-in-law’s favorite and most cherished delicacies. Guests are then treated to an array of exquisite Bengali dishes, brimming with flavors and culinary expertise. To further enhance the son-in-law’s experience, the mother-in-law graciously fans him with a palm leaf as he indulges in the delectable spread. This gesture symbolizes her affection and care for him, adding an extra touch of warmth and comfort to the festivities. In Orissa, a festival known as Sheetla Shashthi or Shitalasasthi (takes place on this day, which commemorates the divine marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

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