What is Karthigai Masam?
Karthigai masam or month (according to the Gregorian calendar, October - November) is believed to be the holiest month for Hindus. It is supposedly the favorite month for Lord Shiva and Vishnu. Many important festivals are celebrated during this month. Shiva, Vishnu and Kartikeya are worshipped in Karthigai month. Each day of the month has a special significance.
Rituals of Karthigai Masam
Padyami is the first day of this month. On this day, people visit Shiva or Vishnu temples and pray. They also light a lamp at the entrance of their house or at the temple. This is called the Akasa Deepam. Vidiya is the second day. On this day, brothers visit their sisters’ homes and eat the food cooked by them. They give gifts to the sisters too. Thadiya is the third day. On this day, people observe the Thrilochana Gauri Vratam. Those who are unable to do it do the kumkum archana or pooja for Goddess Parvati. Chavithi is the fourth day. It is called Nagula Chavithi in Andhra Pradesh. Devotees worship Lord Kartikeya on this day.
Panchami is the fifth day. It is also known as Jnana Panchami and Lord Subramanya is worshipped on this day. Shashti is the sixth day. One should not eat one’s favorite items this day. Saptami is the seventh day. It is good to worship Lord Surya and tie wheat in a red cloth and donate it. Ashtami is the eighth day. One should do pooja for cows on this day.
The 9th day is Navami. On this day, one can start the Vishnu Thri Rathra Vratam which has to be observed for 3 days. Pooja should be done in the evening and at night. On the 10th day, which is Dasami, pray to Vishnu. The 11th day is Ekadasi, when one should fast. Break the fast on Dwadasi. The 12th day is Dwadasi, also called Ksheerabdi Dwadasi. On this day, Vishnu wakes up from his yoga nidra. Do pooja on this day under a gooseberry tree or tulsi plant. The 13th day is Trayodasi. On this day, it is good to avoid dinner and donating Saligrama Sila is also auspicious. The 14th day is Chaturdasi, when it is beneficial to donate sesame and iron. Don’t eat favorite foods. 15th day Pournami. Do Nadi (river) Snanam. Do pooja for Lord Varuna. Lighting a lamp at Shiva or Vishnu temples is auspicious. Even seeing the light or deepam at the temple is good.
The 16th day is Bahula Padyami. On this day, don’t eat curd or food that is not freshly cooked. The 16th day is Vidiya. It’s a good day to donate Vana Bhojanam. Pray to Lord Vishnu under a gooseberry tree and take food with relatives there. The 18th day is Thadiya when one should donate a Tulsi mala to a Brahmin. The 19th day is Chavithi. Doing pooja to Lord Vinayaka with garika, a kind of grass, is auspicious. The 20th day is Panchami when one can feed birds, ants, etc. The 21st day IS Shashti. One should do pooja for Grama Devata and donate something. The 22nd day is Saptami. Doing pooja to Lord Shiva with white erukku flower (Calotropis gigantean) is beneficial.
The 23rd day is Ashtami. Do pooja with vada for Kala Bhairava. The 24th day is Navami when one can donate water and red color blouse piece, bangles, saree, etc. The 25th day is Dasami when one can donate food and observe a fast. The 26th day is Ekadasi. On this day, do deeparadhana (lighting lamp) and listen to the Puranas as it is beneficial. On the 27th day, Dwadasi, donate to needy people. On the 28th day, Trayodasi, do Navagraha pooja. It’s good to fast on this day. The 29th day is Chaturdashi and is also known as Masa Siva Ratri. Pray to Shiva and fast during the day. The 30th day is Amavasya. Donate food in the name of pitrus and observe a fast. This is also the last day of lighting Akasa Deepam. Offer coconut to the lord and light a lamp at the temple.
During Karthigai Masam, one should take a holy bath daily and light lamps inside and around the house. They should be lit in Shiva and Vishnu temples at sunrise and sunset. For lighting the lamps, use cow’s ghee. Supposedly, this removes all our sins. The light of the lamp symbolizes knowledge. It also brings health, wealth and vitality.
After the lamp is lit, worship the Tulsi plant which is important for both Shiva and Vishnu. Its presence alone can destroy any evil inside the house. Lighting a lamp near the Tulsi plant brings prosperity. Damodara pooja is done this month, ie., worshipping Lord Vishnu in Lord Shiva temple. During this month, Lord Vishnu prays to Lord Shiva and vice versa. Monday is a very special day for Lord Shiva and it is ruled by the moon. Doing Pradosha Vratham and meditating on Lord Shiva on Mondays helps achieve the highest point of knowledge and glimpse the supreme spirit. Karthigai Somavaram rituals enable our individual consciousness to tune into the higher realms.