Aranya Sashti, or Aranya Shashti is observed on the sixth day of the waxing phase of moon in the month of Jyeshtha (May – June) as per traditional Hindu calendar. It is dedicated to the forest God and also to Goddess Sashti and Kartikeya. There is a popular belief that those who observe Aranya Sashti will be blessed with children.
Legend has it that once a married woman stole food and blamed it on a cat. To take revenge, the cat stole all the children that the women gave birth and placed them in a temple dedicated to Shasti. Finally, she prayed to the Goddess and she was advised to make an image of cat and worship along with the Goddess for getting back her babies.
How to Celebrate
Women observe a partial fast on the day and perform pujas in a forest or under Kadamba Tree. Goddess Shasti is worshipped on the day and offerings are made on a traditional hand-fan. Women only eat fruits on the day. In some regions women tie a thread around the wrist.
The prayers that are offered on the day are the Aranya Suktam from Rg Veda.
In western parts of India, a cat along with Goddess Shasti is worshipped on the day. All the worship on the day is associated with fertility rites and is aimed at getting an offspring.
In Bengal, the day is observed as Jamai Sasthi. The famous Shiva - Pravati Vivah is held on the day in Orissa and is known as Sitala Sashti.