Tamil Nadu celebrates Karthigai Deepam as the traditional festival. It is a very old festival and is also celebrated in the neighboring states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This festival is very important among the Tamils and every Tamil want to celebrate it wherever they are in this huge world.
Legends of Karthigai Deepam:
The earliest Hindu scripture states that the two great deities of Hindu culture Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma started fighting among them regarding the superiority. They both thought each one was stronger than the other. To stop this huge fight, Lord Shiva came in front of them and tried to show his supremacy. He took the shape of a huge fire and challenged the two fighting Gods to find the end of the fire from the top and bottom. Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar and tried to reach the end of the fire beneath the earth. He failed miserably and came back to Lord Shiva saying that he was unable to find the end of the fire from the bottom. Lord Brahma on the other hand, took the shape of a swan and flew to find the beginning of the fire on the topside.
But his search was also in vain and he was unable to find the top of the fire. Thus, Lord Shiva proved his supremacy over the two Gods and managed to stop the fight. Lord Shiva actually proved that he is the main God of the earth and there is no use in fighting among other Gods regarding their supremacy. He then appeared like hill shape on Thiruvannamalai region. In fact, the names Tiruvannamalai’ and `Arunachala’ denote “holy fire hill”. Later on the kings and famous personnel built a temple on the hill in commemoration of Lord Shiva. This festival is celebrated with great marvel in this particular place.
Another legend links karthigai Deepam to Lord Muruga. Lord Muruga adopted the form of six babies in Saravana poigai, a lake and was looked after by six krittika stars. On this day, Goddess Parvathy united all the six forms of Skantda. Thus, Lord Karthikeya has six faces and popularly known as Aarumugan in Tamil culture.
History of Karthigai Deepam
Karthigai Deepam is very old and people from long back have been associated to this auspicious occasion. The actual history may not be clearly stated in the scriptures but some citations have been found in the ancient writings. One can find a reference to this festival of lights in the the age old literature of Tamils known as Ahananuru, a collection of poems. It is one of the great books of Sangam literature that talks about the happenings between 200 BC and 300 AD. Avaiyyar, renowned woman of Sangam age also mentions about karthigai Deepam in her poems.
Hindu people respect and have complete faith on Lord Shiva. They consider him as the protector of the world and pray to him at all times. They have a strong faith that HE will see to all their sorrows and will take great care of them. He will try to fulfill all the desires of the humans coming to him with prayers.
Sri Annamalaiar Hill is considered as Lord Shiva’s great presence in Thiruvannamalai. People believe that the huge light lit during 5 pm will make people close with Lord Shiva on Kathigai Deepam. Lord Shiva will shed all his blessings during this special time of the year. He is rigidly worshipped during this time. Great care is taken to light the huge fire in this place. People gather around the place and call in the name of Shiva to put an end to all the troubles and bring in peace in every life.
This festival of lights involves lighting lights almost anywhere to put an end to darkness. They want to show lights to the Gods who will be impressed with their worship and continue to look after the followers for ages to come.
Many festivals are celebrated at Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai throughout the year. Among them Karthigai Deepam is the most significant festival that is celebrated with pomp and gaiety at Arunachaleswarar temple.
Tiruvannamalai Karthigai Deepam Festival celebrated for 10 Days
One must not miss out the grand occasion occurring on the hills. They will feel very close to Lord Shiva and his power if they see the worship and the lit fire.
The tenth day (23.11.2018) – Karthigai Deepam festival starts at around four o clock in the early hours and the Bharani Deepam is lit at the temple. In the evening the Mahadeepam is lit on the top of the hill at around six o clock. This is a very important ceremony during the Karthigai Deepam festival at Tiruvannamalai. Arunachaleswarar is said to be visually represented in the form of agni on the hill top. There is a very mammoth gathering on this day at the Arunachaleswarar temple to witness this glorious and sacred event. The night ceremony starts with Lord Periya nayagar going out procession on the Rishaba vahanam that is made of gold. This is another spectacular event at Arunachaleswar temple at Tiruvannamalai.
Karthigai Deepam is the oldest festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu and Southern India, even before Diwali and Navarathri celebrations. The reference of Karthigai Deepam can be found in many ancient Tamil literatures like ‘Ahananuru’ (200 B.C. to 300 A.D.) ‘Tolkappiyam that dates back to 2,000 or 2,500 BC, Jeevakachintamani , an epic written by Jain poet, Thiruthakka Thevar, in the Sangam period, Karnarpadu , Kalavazhi Narpadu dating around 1,000 BC and Pazhamozhi , even the famous poetess Avaiyyar, also mentions about the festival in her literary work.
Karthigai Deepam: Extension of Diwali
Karthigai Deepam is also called the festival of lights and believed to be extension of Diwali Festival as many families practice the trend of doubling the number of lamps every day from the day of Diwali till the festival day of Karthigai Deepam and thus the large number of blazing lamps offers a captivating manifestation during the night.
Like Diwali, there is general practice of cleaning houses and decking up houses beautifully with stunning illuminations and multihued Kolams or Rangoli. People place lamps or Agal in their puja room and place them at different places in the house after the completion of Deeparathana (puja). The streets provide visual treat on this festival with lamps all around.
Karthigai Deepam is the major festival of Tamil Nadu and is also referred as Annamalai Deepam. The festival is celebrated for nine auspicious days with each day having its own special importance. There are special celebrations organized at Arunachaleswarar Temple amidst Annamali Hills in Thiruvannamalai.
The celebrations begin with the flag hoisting on the Uttradam day and the festivity continues for nine Kathigai Deepam days. The popular Bharani Deepam in five agantams is lit in Arunachaleswarar’s Sannithi in early morning hours of the tenth day. Devotees move to the Annamali Hills to worship the Bharani Deepam on the final day of the festival. It is believed that the flame of the lamp does not sputter on this day and divulge into the form of Lord Muruga, reaching up to the sky.
The Bharani Deepam is actually a colossal circular metal vessel with a capacity to hold about 2,000 liters of ghee, a height of five and half feet and diameter of five feet. The wick of the lamp itself is made up of 30m of Ghada cloth burnt using 2 kilos of camphor. It is claimed that on the night of Karthigai Pournami , when the lamp is lit it can be seen across an area of 35km around the shrine.
In the evening, the Pancha Murthis are brought to the Katchi Mandapam. At dusk (Pradosham), with the Karthigai day harmonizing with full moon day, the deity, Ardhanareeswarar, is taken in a grand procession on the decorated vehicle to this place with the five deepams, which are put in a big receptacle near the flag staff. At the same time, the guiding light on the hill is lit and huge crowd raise cry in a loud voice “Annamalaikku Arogara.” It is a sight for the Gods! The lighting of the beacon on the top of the hill is the finale of ten days of merriment in the town.