Karthigai Deepam

 Karthigai Deepam is one of the oldest festivals celebrated by Dravidians. The festival finds reference in Sangam literature like Ahananuru and the poems of Auvaiyar. Karthigai Deepam is celebrated on the full moon day (pournami) of the month of Karthigai (mid-November to mid-December).On this day the full moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai (Pleiades).

The festival is observed in every home and every temple.Rows of Agal vilakkus (oil lit lamps) are lit in every house. Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol. It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy.

There is an interesting story explaining the link between Karthigai and lamps. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma began to quarrel as to who was the more powerful of the two. While they were fighting, Lord Shiva appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma gave up quarrelling and decided to find the top and the bottom of the pillar.Accordingly, Brahma assumed the form of a swan and moved upwards. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and started digging deep into the earth. But even after searching for several years, neither of the two was able to find the ends the pillar. Finally, they realised that the pillar was none other than Lord Shiva.Soon afterwards, Lord Shiva appeared as a hill (Arunachala Hill) at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. Indeed, the very names `Tiruvannamalai’ and `Arunachala’ translate as `holy fire hill.’ The Shivalinga in the temple here is the agni linga. The tiny lamps lit during the Karthigai festival (Karthigai Deepam) are believed to be the miniature replicas of the fire linga. Every year thousands of devotees from Chennai and elsewhere flock to Tiruvannamalai to see the spectacular Karthigai Deepam there.


About Keerthika Singaravel

2 Responses to Karthigai Deepam

  1. Keerthika–Thanks for sharing the wonderful traditions and festivals of your country. The Karthigai Deepam video was fascinating.

    • Thank You.Glad you liked the write-ups on the various festivals and traditions.I was worried I would lose my readers by going off on a tangent.
      BTW another interesting fact is that Manikkavachagar’s Tiruvembavi verses that are sung in this temple are also sung in Thailand during the coronation of their kings!
      My family has a history of donations to this temple,so Karthigai Deepam is a pretty big thing at home.

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