What is the Karthigai Deepam festival
Karthigai Deepam or Thirukarthigai Deepam is a famous festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra, and Karnataka. The Festival is known as the “Festival of Lights,” as earthen lamps are lit at homes and temples. The lighting of lamps during the Thirukarthigai festival indicates the removal of Ignorance and acquiring Knowledge. This Festival is also known as Karthiga Poornima, Deva Diwali, and Tripurari Purnima. In Tamil Nadu, the people celebrate the Thirukarthigai festival for three successive days. The children burst the leftover crackers of Diwali during this Festival.
The Mondays of this month are known as ‘Karthiga Somavar’ and are auspicious for Shiva’s worship. Devotees also offer worship to Muruga and Vishnu during the Karthiga month. Devotees undergo vratham/fasting during the Karthigai month. People avoid intake of non-veg foods and offer special prayers to the deities.
Date and Time 2021
This year, the deepam falls on Friday, November 19th, and the evening 5.30 to 6 pm is the ideal time to perform the pooja. At most homes, at least two deepams are lit every evening near the entrance for all 30 days of the Karthigai month. And on the Thirukarthigai day and the two days following it, deepams are illuminated in the entire house.
The procedure of the Thirukarthigai festival
The Thirukarthigai festival has a great history; it has been celebrated for centuries.
The people do the following during the Festival.
- People clean the houses and temples thoroughly.
- Decorate the homes and temples using mango leaves, young coconut leaves, and plantain.
- Women draw beautiful kolams (rangoli) at homes and temples.
- Earthen lamps known as ‘Agal Vilakku’ are very auspicious; they are arranged all over the homes and temples.
- The lamps are arranged near the doors and windows and also in the balconies of homes.
- A lamp should be kept in the kitchen, especially the Rice, dhal, and Salt containers.
- In the temples, the lamps are placed in every shrine and corridor.
- The earthen lamps and other diyas are decorated with turmeric and kumkum (vermillion)
- Pure ghee or oils like sesame oil, rice bran oil, and cotton wicks are ideal for lighting the lamps.
- During the evening, the lamps placed at different spots of the home are lit.
- Usually, the people place a bigger lamp in the pooja room and perform pooja to it.
- Special naivedyam and Archana (Pooja) are performed to the main lamp by the house’s women.
- In the temples, one big earthen lamp is lighted atop the gopuram after special puja, followed by lighting of pyre outside the temple premises.
Significance of the Thirukarthigai Deepam festival
Karthigai Deepam signifies the triumph of light over darkness, and it is an auspicious occasion that underlines the power of the supreme. The Karthigai month and light have a special relationship; the combination of the Full Moon and the shining star Krithika enables the rays of divine consciousness to descend the world.
Though the Deepam festival is celebrated in several temples, it is celebrated grandly at the Arunachaleswara Temple at Tiruvannamalai. It is believed that the Festival originated here. Shiva manifested as a mountain at this spot to banish the arrogance of Brahma and Vishnu and made them realize he was the supreme of all Gods.
The Mountain itself is worshipped as Shiva, and the people perform circumambulation as a mark of piety and devotion towards Shiva. During the Thirukarthigai festival, elaborate arrangements are made to celebrate the Festival, and a big bonfire is lit on the peak of the Arunachala Mountain. This event commemorates the emergence of Shiva as a pillar of light ages before. People throng this temple town in large numbers during the Festival to witness the bonfire atop the Arunachala Mountain.
There are five great Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu representing the five natural elements, sky, Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. The Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara temple is one of those five, and it represents fire. The Powerspot is one of the significant temples of India and has several gopurams and vimanas. The holy scriptures say that the very thought of Arunachala can liberate one from the cycle of birth and bless him with liberation, the ultimate freedom one can aspire to.
The following are two slokas that are ideal for reciting while lighting the lamp. Devotees believe that reciting these slokas while lighting the lamps will bring prosperity and fortune.
“Shubham Karoti Kalyanam
Arogyam Dhana Sampadah
Shatru Buddhi Vinashaya
Dipa Jyotir Namostute
Meaning: “I offer my salutations to the light and that brings prosperity, auspiciousness, good health, abundance of wealth and destruction of the enemy’s intellect.”
Deepo Me Hara Tu Paapam
Deepaa Jyothir Namostute”
Meaning: “I offer my salutations before the lord, the preserver of this creation, in the form of this light. I adore this light, which destroys all the pains resulting from my omissions and commissions”.
We invite you to participate in the Karthigai Deepam events organized by the Pillai Center.