''Karthigai Deepam'' festival, Tamil Nadu, 2020

2020 Happy Karthigai Deepam greetings. fancygreetings.com

2020 Katthigai deepam festival, Thiruvannamalai, TN.  thehindu.com

Arunachala hill, Thiruvannamalai, TN, Karthigai Deepam.cybernag.in 

Karthigai (also spelled Karthikai) Deepam is yet another popular  Hindu festival  that normally falls on the evening of the full Moon day  in the Tamil month of Karthigai (mid-Nov to mid-Dec).   From Astronomy point of view, it is linked to the  brightest star in the firmament  Alcyone,  in the Pleiades constellation. This festival is celebrated with more religious fervor in  the southern sate of Tamil Nadu than elsewhere  where the huge and popular Arunachaleswarer temple dedicated to God Shiva (Agni's sthalam), Thiruvannamalai gets the attentions of millions of devotees who throng the temple to watch the  two week long-drawn  festival beginning earlier with flag-hoisting on the temple premises. The most important part of the festival is the lightening of Bharani deepam  in the temple and a huge oil lamp on the crest of the Arunachala mountain near the temple on the 29th of November, 2020 around 6 pm.  

Home-made karthikai deepam. en.wikipedia.org
Above image: Label Details

A The 3 twigs which hold the charcoal pack

B The exposed charcoal to ignite easily

C The layered charcoal packed in jute sack pieces

D The rope binding

Height might vary from 10 inches to 12 inches or more; Width: 3 to 4-inch width of the charcoal package ( en.wikipedia.org)............................

This  year, owing to Covid- 19 Pandemic that is threatening across the globe and also in India, the Tamil Nadu health department has set in motion several restriction on the visitors to the temple, in particular, on the 28th and 29th of November and the temple rituals, etc.  All the temple festivities will be conducted inside the temple premises and, I understand, there are no processions of  deities, including the well-known temple Chariot festival ( Ther Thiruvizha) -   around the temple. This restriction was strictly followed  by the state government to avoid gathering of large number of people in public and unusual crowds during the festival days . As we may be aware, social distancing is a must  during this Pandemic period,  this year, like all other festivals, it is a low-key ritual given the present health scenario and the recent flood havoc (25th to 27th of Nov.) in the northern Tamil Nadu  districts like Thiruvannamalai, Vellore, Dharmapuri, etc  caused by heavy rain  that accompanied the recent Nivar cyclone that had its origin in the South Bay of Bengal.  During the 14 day long festivities, devotees will not be allowed inside the temple on November 29 alone.“On other days only 5,000 people can get into the temple with e-passes issued by the temple management.  For further reading refer:




Karthigai deepam festival, Kerala  Vaikom temple. in.pinterest.com

Karthigai Deepam, an ancient festival, often associated with God Shiva and  God Muruga (Karthikaya) gives much importance to the  lighting of oil lamps preferably earthen lamps (made from clay).  The  spiritual significance on this day is getting rid of ignorance, and ago and inviting  knowledge, enlightenment and welfare of the society as a whole. The wick in the lamp symbolizes our ego, the oil represents nature that cultures the ego and the flame signifies the spiritual wisdom and knowledge. The lighting of  oil lamps gets rid of  the ego (wick) that retards the progress of our welfare   by burning  it out. Along with also goes out any negativity in our mind and this way our positivity is accentuated.  In a way  the message of Karthigai deepam is much similar to that of Deepavali festival.  This deepam festival also hails the victory of Goddess Parvati over the demon Mahishasura,  symbolizing  the victory of good over evil forces.   On Karthigai Deepam,  Hindu families across Tamil Nadu will light the oil lamps in their homes in the evening only after the Bharani deepam is lit atop the Arunachala  hill at Thiruvannamalai.

 It is at the Arunachala hill, the mythology has it,  that God Shiva appeared as a giant column of fire stretching heaven and earth.   This is the reason why  the huge oil lamp that is lit on the hill gets due importance as part of Karthikai  deepam festival.  Yet another mythological event  is that Lord Muruga (Karthikaya) was born as six flames from the third eye of Lord Shiva and was brought up by  six nymphs  (called the Karthigai Pengal  as six beautiful babies, who were  later became unified by Goddess Parvati, consort of God Shiva  into a  beautiful  boy with six faces called Shanmuga.(here, the six faces refer to his six gunas/traits). Third eye The third eye of Lord Shiva (in the fore-head) from all his six faces were used to create Lord Muruga as his son and  the faces imply as follows:

 Tatpurusha The face of Concealing Grace

 Aghora The face of annihilation

 Sadyojata The face of Creation

 Vamadeva The face of Preservation/Healing/Dissolution/Rejuvenation

 Ishana The face of Revealing Grace

 The 6th face of shiva specified in literature named sri kanda puranam (Skanda Purana) .............

Chimney starter is similar kind of mechanism used, but it uses fuel to burn charcoal.  Rope fire performance is another form of fire dancing and twirling with fired ropes which needs special skills, because the rope is ignited with fuel (from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karthika_Deepam)

Though, the enthusiasm among the Hindus during the Karthigai Deepam festival day is not very much noticeable, their religious fervor is never on the decline, a fact that a small group of  people  with anti-Hindu sentiments and certain political parties using secularism as a gimmick did not cherish the people becoming more religious than ever before.  In a democratic country, hurting the sentiments of others' religious belief is very unfortunate. At stake will be the unity of people in the society and the country at a time when we are facing  threats from neighboring theocratic country Pakistan and greedy China which is openly stealing  bordering countries' areas.