Karthikai Deepam 2022 - The South Indian Festival of Lights

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Karthikai Deepam - The South Indian Festival of Lights

November 19, 2022 | Total Views : 36
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Karthika Deepam is a very ancient festival that has been celebrated in India for many years. It is a festival of lights and is celebrated in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, etc. It is also a major festival in Sri Lanka, which has a sizeable Tamil population. The festival has great importance for Tamils.

In Kerala, this festival is called Thrikkarthika. People celebrate it to welcome Goddess Karthyayani or Chottanikkara Bhagavati. In other regions of India, people celebrate Kartik Purnima, a related festival, on a different date. Those who dwell in the Nilgiris district celebrate it as 'Lakshabba'. The festival gets its name from Lord Kartikeya (Muruga).

Karthikai month (Nov-Dec) is very auspicious in south India. It starts in mid-November. From the day it begins till the end of the month, people light oil lamps in their homes every day.

On the day of Karthikai Pournami (the full moon of Karthikai month), devotees make an oil lamp with 365 wicks at home and light it in Shiva temples. They also observe a fast till sunset every day for the entire month.


The Story of Karthigai Deepam Festival

The festival is associated with the Karthigai Pengal in Indian mythology. They were the six celestial nymphs who raised the six babies in the Saravana Poigai. They were later fused by Goddess Parvati to form the six-faced Muruga. The nymphs represent the Pleiades, a constellation of stars called Krithigai. Lord Muruga, or Karthikeya, was born from the 6 sparks of fire that emerged from Lord Shiva’s 3rd eye. The six Karthigai nymphs were Śiva, Sambhuti, Priti, Sannati, Anasuya, and Ksama.

Shiva blessed the six nymphs with immortality, and they turned into stars. When we worship these six stars, it is like worshipping Muruga himself. To worship them, people light rows of oil lamps (Deepam) in the evening of Karthigai Deepam day in their houses and streets.

There is another famous legend behind the festival. Once, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu had an argument. Each claimed that he was supreme and had more power and strength than the other. To put an end to their fight, Lord Shiva appeared before them as a pillar of fire. He told them to find the beginning and end of the fire. The one who did so first would be the supreme God. On hearing this, Brahma turned into a swan and flew up. Vishnu turned into a boar and went under the earth. But neither could find the win the contest. Finally, Shiva assumed his true form. This incident established that he was the supreme God.

Karthikai Deepam is also the birthday of Muruga. Karthika Deepam 2022 is on December 06, Tuesday.

When is Karthikai Deepam Celebrated?

Karthikai Deepam is celebrated on the Poornima or full moon day in Karthigai month. The festival lasts for a month, and it commences on the day of Diwali.

Rituals of Karthikai Deepam

People clean and wash their houses on this day. They make 'Kolams' with rice flour in front of the house to welcome the Gods.

Rows of agal vilakkus or clay lamps are lit and kept in front of God and also in the center of the Kolams.

Devotees keep fast until sunset. They also make special dishes and eat them after the fast ends.

Many kinds of lamps are used to decorate the house. They include Lakshmi vilakku (in the shape of a woman with folded hands), Kuthu vilakku (shaped like a five-petaled flower), and the Gajalakshmi vilakku in the shape of an elephant. A lighted lamp is a symbol of auspiciousness. People believe that it can ward off evil forces. Lighted lamps are part of all Hindu festivals, but it is mandatory for Karthigai.

This festival is also important for sisters and brothers. The sisters observe a fast and pray for their brothers’ well-being.

This festival is celebrated with great fanfare at the Arunachaleswarar Shiva temple in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. On the day of Karthikai Deepam, one can see the Maha Deepam on the hill that can be seen from afar. To light it, the priests use nearly 3500 kg of ghee. The Annamalai hill here represents the Shiva Lingam.

Karthika Deepam Pooja

The Pooja is done in the evening, from 5.30 to 6 pm.

Make maavilakkus using rice flour and jaggery and light them using ghee. 

Decorate the Pooja room with flowers.

Keep a betel leaf, betel nut, banana, and broken coconut on a plate.

Keep the offerings for Neivedyam on another plate. They can include payasam, kozhukattai, appam, fruits, etc.

Light the lamps in the Pooja room and also the maavilakku, which is kept before God, by 5.30 pm.

At 6 pm, light the lamps outside the house.

After this, offer Neivedyam, Dhoop, and Deeparadhanai.

When the Pooja is over, light 2 lamps. Keep one inside the vessel where you store rice. Place the other in the salt vessel. The containers should remain open, and the lamps should face the east. Arrange the remaining lamps at the entrance of the house and also at the entrance of each room.


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