Shashthi or Shashti (Sanskrit: षष्ठी, Bengali: ষষ্ঠী, Ṣaṣṭhī, literally "sixth") is a Hindu goddess, venerated in Nepal and India 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 prescribed 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. She is especially venerated in eastern India.

Quick facts: Shashthi, Other names, Devanagari, Sanskrit t...
Goddess of children, reproduction, child birth, mid-wives
Other namesDevasena, Kaumari
Sanskrit transliterationṢaṣṭhī
AffiliationDevi, Prakriti
MantraOm shashthi devi namah
TextsBrahmavaivarta Purana, Devi Bhagavata Purana
Personal information
ConsortKartikeya (when identified with Devasena)

Also known as Chhathi Maiya, the sixth form of Devi Prakriti and Lord Surya's sister is worshipped as the Goddess of the chhath festival. It is celebrated six days after Deepavali, on the sixth day of the lunar month of Kartika (October–November) in the Hindu calendar Vikram Samvat. The rituals are observed over four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (vrata), standing in water, and offering prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun. Some devotees also perform a prostration march as they head for the river banks.

Most scholars believe that 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 BCE, 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.