Karthigai Deepam is one of the oldest festivals celebrated by Tamil Hindus. In the evening of this festival day, all houses and streets are lit up with rows of oil lamps called Karthigai Deepam.
Karthigai Deepam, also spelled as Karthikai Deepam, got its name from Nakshatra Karthikai or Krittika. Karthigai Deepam is observed on the day when Krittika Nakshatra is prevailing and it is done as a dedication to Lord Shiva. It is believed that on this day of Karthigai Deepam, Lord Shiva transformed himself into an endless flame of light to prove his supremacy over the other two Gods of Trinity, namely, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma.
Though Karthigai day is observed every month, the most important among them falls in the Tamil month of Karthikai, which is the same as Solar month Vrischika in other Hindu calendars. Templesinindiainfo.com lists all Karthikai days in the year including Karthikai Deepam, which is the most significant among them.
Karthigai festival celebrated in Tiruvannamalai Hills is very famous. On Karthigai day, a huge fire lamp is lit up on the Tiruvannamalai Hill, which is visible from several kilometers around the hill. This fire or Deepam is known as Mahadeepam. Thousands of Hindu devotees visit this sacred place and worship God Shiva.
Other names of Karthikai Deepam:
# Karthika Deepam
# Kartika Villaku
# Karthikai Naksatra
# Bharani deepam
# Vishnu deepam
Karthikai Deepam Rituals:
* Clean the House and draw Kolams in front of the house. Kolam powder is made with rice flour but now a days no one is using rice flour powder.
* Wash the clay lamps (agal in Tamil)cleanly, pour some oil and place a bathi and lit it and place infront of God and are also used as decorations in the Kolams.
* Fasts are kept until sunset and special dishes are prepared to be eaten after closing the fast.
* The entire house is decorated with numerous lamps. Different patterns of lamps symbolic of mythological tales are used – * * Lakshmi villaku shaped like a woman with folded hands, Kuthu villaku shaped like a five petal flower and the Gajalakshmi villaku—the elephant lamp.
* This festival also rejuvenates the sister-brother bond as sisters pray and fast for the long life and well-being of their brothers.
* In Andhra Pradesh, on the day of full moon or Karthika pournami, a big lamp with 365 wicks is lit to ward off any evil and * the holy text of Kartheeka puranam is recited to invite auspiciousness and good fortune.
* This festival is celebrated with much pomp and glory at all Shiva temples especially at Tirruvanna malai hills of Tamil Nadu. On Karthikai Deepam, a huge fire is setup on a top of the hill which is visible from several kilometers.