08:39 AM to 09:49 AM
Poision Time (Rahu Kalam)
10:58 AM to 12:08 PM
Danger Time (Yamagandam)
02:27 PM to 03:36 PM
Karthigai Deepam Muhurat
Tithi Begins = 15:39:18 on 21-Dec-2018
Tithi Ends = 12:48:31 on 22-Dec-2018
The ancient festival of Karthigai Deepam is celebrated during the Full Moon evening in the Tamil month of Karthigai (mid-November to mid-December) when the Moon is in the star Karthigai (also known as Krittika) as per the Tamil calendar. In astronomy, this star is known as Alcyone, and it is the brightest star in the Pleiades constellation.
In southern India and in Sri Lanka, many people celebrate Karthigai Deepam with great joy and reverence. They light small clay or mud lamps called deepams to decorate their houses and offer in their home shrines. They also place lit deepams on balcony railings or outside on the porch or in the yard. Even the most humble hut will have some simple deepams burning in the evening. The deepam lamps are lit to rejoice in the glory of light for dispelling dark forces.
In addition, every year on the evening when the Full Moon is in the star of Karthigai, a special fire gets lit in a sacred ceremony right after dark atop the Tiruvannamalai (Arunachala) hills in Tamil Nadu, Southern India. This raging beam of fire at the highest point of the hill is visible for miles around in the local area. It is considered a great honor in the local community to help with carrying the wood or the oil up the hill for this specific ritual.
The light from this fire is worshipped as a manifestation of Lord Shiva in the form of fire. Fire is one of the five elements of Nature, the others being earth, water, air and ether which is also known as the akash or causal plane. Lord Shiva is worshipped in all these various forms throughout Tamil Nadu. However, the evening of Karthigai Deepam is especially for expressing reverence and devotion to the divine fire of Lord Shiva’s infinite love and compassion.
This is one of the oldest festivals of southern India. The lighting of the fire at Arunachala for Karthigai Deepam has been faithfully observed for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Fire connects us with the Divine and has been hailed in the Vedas as the messenger of Gods manifests on earth to burn away people’s bad karma and negative vibrations. Worshipping light on this day not only activates the process of purifying oneself for spiritual growth, it also helps people connect with the fiery energy of Krittika stars leading to renewal of energy in every worshipper.
At the household level, the celebration is geared towards inviting prosperity and abundance by lighting up mud lamps or deepams. The lamps are lit in the evening, and pooja is performed to Lord Shiva. In the local area, usually the lighting of household lamps takes place after the big fire is lit atop the Arunachala hill on the evening of Karthigai Deepam. It is quite moving to see the valley begin to flicker with the various lights across the households with the Full Moon shining the in sky above the hill where the fire is kept burning.
In addition, a variety of food offerings are made as offerings are also made to Lord Shiva. As per traditional custom, at least two mud lamps are lit and kept outside the house throughout the month of Karthigai.
Throngs of pilgrims gather in the valley below to make prayers and chant Om Namasivaya. Many of them will circumambulate the hill during the evening. The lighting of the fire on the Arunachala hill is also live broadcast over the Internet via webcam. People throughout the world light deepam lamps on this evening.
Some people sponsor feeding of the pilgrims as they do their spiritual walk, and others come in person to do service in cooking or passing out food and drink to those who are doing a walking vigil at the hill.
There are several stories associated with Karthigai Deepam. Here are two:
Karthigai Deepam Celebrates the Nurturing of Muruga by the Krittika Sisters: Lord Muruga was born from the sparks of a fire that emitted from the third eye of Lord Shiva. These sparks turned into 6 infants who were nourished and reared by six stars. These stars are also imagined as the six Krittika sisters. As Lord Muruga was brought up by them, he is called Karthikeya. Goddess Parvathi merged all the six children into a single child with six faces. Hence, one of the names of Lord Muruga is Shanmuga, the archetype with six faces.
Karthigai Deepam Celebrates the Ruling Deity of Krittika Star, Agni (Archetype of Fire), Manifesting on Earth: On Karthigai Deepam evening, Lord Shiva appears as Agni (archetype of fire) on Tiruvannamalai hills (Tiruvannamalai in Sanskrit is called Arunachalam). This festival draws a huge number of pilgrims every year as it is considered to be the “Agni Kshetram” (the place where fire manifested).
The story is that as Lord Shiva stood as a pillar of fire (Agni), Lord Vishnu tried to find Lord Shiva’s feet feet while Lord Brahma searched for Lord Shiva’s head. Lord Brahma sat on his vehicle, a swan. He attempted to ride on the swan and fly up to find the top of the burning pillar. As he flew higher and higher, the pillar grew still taller. While flying up, Lord Brahma encountered a screw pine flower who stated that he had fallen from the head of Lord Shiva.
Lord Brahma asked the flower to tell a lie to say that Lord Brahma had seen the head of Lord Shiva, even though Lord Brahma had still not flown up as high as Lord Shiva’s head. When the flower told this lie to others, Lord Shiva cursed Brahma announcing that Brahma would never have a temple and or be worshipped on a regular basis. Lord Shiva also said the screw pine flower would never be used for worshipping Lord Shiva.
Lord Vishnu, who searched for the feet of Lord Shiva, took the form of a wild boar (Varaha) and began burrowing deep into the Earth. After a time, Lord Vishnu admitted he could not dig deep enough to find the feet of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appreciated this humility and honesty. Lord Shiva blessed Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva also appeared before Lord Vishnu in his original form, something Lord Shiva does not often do.