Shashthi Mata or Goddess Shashti is a Hindu folk goddess, venerated as the benefactor and protector of children (especially, as the giver of male child). 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.
Shashti 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.
The Legend or story of Shashti Mata :
A chapter entitled ‘Shashthi devyupakhyanam’ appended to the texts Brahma Vaivarta Purana and Devi Bhagavata Purana, narrates the tale of Shashthi Mata. The origin of Shashti Mata is associated with the story of King Priyavrata. King Priyavrata – the son of Svayambhuva Manu (the progenitor of mankind) – and his wife Malini performed the putrakamesti yajna (a fire-sacrifice ritual to gain a son) in an effort to conceive, but after twelve years of pregnancy, a still-born son was delivered to Malini.
Priyavrata set off to the cremation grounds with the corpse of his son. On his way, he saw a celestial woman dressed in white silk and jewels, riding in a heavenly chariot. She declared to Priyavrata that she was Devasena, the daughter of Brahma and wife of Skanda. She further said that she was Shashthi, foremost of the Matrikas (“Mothers”) of Skanda, and had the power to grant children to devotees.
In Bengal, Shashti Mata is worshipped on Jamai Shashti, the sixth day in Shukla Paksha of Jyeshta Month as per Hindu calendar.