Once Brahma and Vishnu due to the ego started
arguing with each other
" who is the greatest". Both claimed to be
the greatest, instead of doing their duty. At that time the God Shiva appeared
in the form of fire and told them
whoever finds the top or bottom of the fire is the greatest. Brahma took the
form of Annam (a bird) and tried to find the top of the frle pillar. Vishnu
took the form of Varaha( giant pig) and tried to see the bottom of the pillar.
As the God has no limit in his size or power, both of them could not see either
top or bottom of the fire. When their ego went down and they prayed the God, He
appeared before them. The day in which the God appeared as a pillar of fire is
Thirukarthigai/Karthigai Deepam. 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. This vradha indicates the non
measurable in finiteness of the God and shows that the God is the light that
will drive away our ignorance.
Lamps are lit in the houses to pray His
"Jyothi Swarupam". First day of this festival is called
as "Appakarthigai" and the second day is called as "vadai
karthigai". All devotees will offer pori,adhirasam,vella Seedai,
vetrilai pakku,fruits as neivedhyam for God Shiva. In
down South of Tamilnadu and in Kerala, Hindus will pray god for goodness of
their brothers and they will light a elephant lamp(Gajalakshmi Vilaku) which
marks as a sign of prosperity and wealth.
Why we light Elephant lamp on Karthigai ?
Once upon a time there lived a King and he had
only one daughter. She loved an elephant which grew with her and she considered
the elephant as her own brother. After her marriage she missed her brother
elephant very much. So for every Thirukarthigai/Karthigai deepam occasion, she will light
elephant lamp(Gajalakshmi vilaku) and she will prepare tender coconut, elephant
leg size milagu Milagu Adai, Pori,Adhirasam,Vella Seedai and keep them as
neivedhyam for this festival.
Thiru Karthigai Deepam, the festival of lights,
is celebrated every year in the Tamil month of Karthigai (mid November - mid
December). Karthikai Deepam falls on the full moon day of the Karthigai month,
coinciding with Krithikai star. Lamps are lit in front of the house in the
morning and evening, throughout the month. On the Thirukarthikai day, theentire house is decorated with the oil lamps. This festival of lights indicates
the removal of darkness (Ignorance) and enhancing of light (Intelligence).
The Ritual On
Thirukarthigai, people clean their houses and draw kolams (rangoli) in the
front of the house. The lamps are then placed on it. Before that, the lamps
(Agal) are placed in the pooja and lighted. Deeparathana is done and the lamps
are kept in different places in the house. People of Tamil Nadu celebrateKarthigai Deepam for three days. Some people celebrate it, extending from the
Deepavali festival. The number of lamps is doubled every day from the day of
Diwali and they end up with numerous lamps on the day of Karthigai Deepam.
History of Karthigai Deepam
Kaarthigai Deepam brings to mind the legend ofLord Muruga who took the form of six babies in a lake called "Saravana
Poigai". He was formed from the eyes of Lord Shiva as six flames. These
six flames turned into six babies which were united by Goddess Parvati (his mother) on this day. Special
rituals are performed to Lord Muruga on this day. Significance of the Day Special light
is lit at the top of the hill at Thiruvannamalai which is the abode of Lord
Shiva, called as Agni Shetram or Agni Sthalam (one of the five aspects called
Panchaboothams). This festival is called as Tiruvannamalai Deepam.
Karthikai Maha Deepam is a festival observed in the Tamil month of Karthikai at
famous Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleshwara swamy temple in Tamil Nadu. It is
celebrated on Kartikai Pournami, the Full Moon day in the month of Kaarthikai.
This festival coincides with Krithikai nakshatram. In Thiruvannamalai, Maha
Karthigai Deepam is celebrated for 10 days. It is popularly known as Karthikai Brahmotsavam. On first day of Karthikai Deepam
festival, the celebrations begin with Dwajarohanam. Procession of LordChandrasekhara swamy is commenced on the second day during the festival. Surya
Vahana seva is performed on the third day. Kamadhenu vahana seva is done onfourth day to Periya Nayagar. On the twelfth day, Karthikai Deepam festival
comes to a grand conclusion when Lord Arunachaleshwara is taken our for
pradakshina known as Girivalam. It is also celebrated as the
extension of Deepavali. Kartigai Deepam is observed with a lot of gusto and
enthusiasm in other temples of Tamil Nadu. The festival is celebrated for three
days in the state.
ROWS OF agal
vilakkus in front of every house... this is the image that at once comes to
mind when we think of Karthigai Deepam - the festival of lights that is
celebrated throughout Tamil Nadu during the month of Karthigai
(November-December). Not many of us are aware that it is one of the oldest
festivals celebrated in the State, perhaps even before people began celebrating
Deepavali and Navarathri. Also, unlike many other Hindu festivals, Karthigai
is basically a Tamil festival and is virtually unknown in most other parts of
One of the earliest references to the festival is found in the Ahananuru, a book of poems, which dates back to the Sangam Age (200 B.C. to 300
A.D.). The Ahananuru clearly states that Karthigai is celebrated on the full moon day (pournami) of the Tamil month of Karthigai. It was
one of the most important festivals (peruvizha) of the ancient Tamils. Avaiyyar, the renowned poetess of those times, refers to the
festival in her songs. Inscriptions in our temples also refer to the festival.
A mid-sixteenth Century inscription at the Arulalaperumal temple in
Kancheepuram, refers to the festival as Thiru Karthigai Thirunal.
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. While the lighted lamp is important for all Hindu rituals
and festivals, it is indispensable for Karthigai. 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 quarreling 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 realized 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.
lit on the occasion are of varied sizes, shapes and colors. Traditionally,
lamps are lit in temples and agal vilakkus would adorn the thinnais of houses. Bigger lamps made of mud; stone and metal were lit inside homes. The
ancient Tamils are said to have even imported lamps from as far as Greece and
Rome, through the ports of Arikamedu (near Pondicherry), Mallai or Mamallapuram
and Mylai or Mylapore (part of present-day Chennai). One such imported lamp was
of the hanging variety, designed in the shape of a swan with a fish placed at
lamp from Arikamedu. Another variety of lamp, common in Tamil Nadu from early
times was the Lakshmi vilakku or Pavaivilakku. It was
shaped like a woman bearing in her folded palms, the tahali or shallow
bowl containing oil for lighting the lamp. At Arikamedu, archaeologists
have unearthed a flat circular clay lamp with four nozzles or petals or
openings for four wicks. Another clay lamp discovered at this site has 12
nozzles. The ubiquitous five-nozzle kuthu vilakku has been in use from
the days of the Cholas or perhaps even earlier. When the British East India
Company began to rule parts of South India, it featured the petals or nozzles
of the kuthu vilakku on some of the coins that were minted. The five
petalsor nozzles are also said to denote the five main elements are
supposed to represent the five elements of Nature - earth, water, fire, air and
sky or space. The five nozzles are also said to denote the five main elements needed for a
successful life - health, wealth, learning, courage and longevity.
after Karthigai, most of these lamps, except for those in daily use,
were cleaned and stacked away, and taken out only the next year for the
festival. In the old, tiled-roof houses, agalvilakkus were
invariably stacked in the loft beneath theroof. In recent times,
changes in lifestyle and tastes have brought about changes in the lamps used
for the festival. Till recently, the humble agal vilakku was brought to
our doorstep by the lamp-maker himself who carried his fragile wares on his
head or on the back of a donkey. People purchased these lamps in dozens. Now,
they are packed in colorful boxes and sold in prestigious department stores
and handicrafts emporia as also in the annual lamp exhibitions organized in the
city by Poompuhar to coincide with Karthigai. Designer clay lamps are
becoming popular among the younger generation. These come in exotic shapes and
are often decorated with painted designs, colourful stones, beads and zari
work. Many modern families in Chennai no longer prefer the oil lamps that stain
the floor and the walls. Instead, they use scented candles, including those
shaped in the form of the agal vilakku. In flats that do not have
balconies or open spaces, the single candle lit next to the front door is a
testimony to a hoary tradition.
Karthigai Deepam Recipes :
Keep your house clean before the day of Karthigai Deepam.
Decorate your home with lightened oil lamp (Deepam) in the house entrance and also around the house.
Put Kolam (Rongkoli) in front of the House.
Pray to Lord Shiva and Maa Shakti (Parvati) on the day of Karthigai Deepam.