Importance of Bharani Deepam (Karthigai deepam festival)

Among the Hindu festivals the one that is widely observed in India especially in south india is Karthigai Deepam festival. It is the most popular one in Tamil Nadu and the primary venue is Arunachaleswar temple of Thiruvannamali where God Shiva represents Agni - one of the five most essential elements (Pancha boothams) for the sustenance of life on earth. It is a10 day event that comes in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November- December). The final day marks  Maha deepam. 

Bharani Deepam, Thiruvannamalai.

Bharani deepam , Thiruvannamalai.

Bharani deepam , Thiruvannamalai.

Above images: Arunachaleswar temple, Thiuvannamalai, TN. Bharani deepam ritual at 4 am on the Karthigai Deepam day.  After Deepa Aradhanai, it is taken to the devotees for prayer and wishes.....  

On the  auspicious day of Karthigai Deepam festival   Arunachaleswarar temple is opened in the early morning and special Abhishekam and Deeparadhanai will be done. Bharani Deepam, an integral puja protocol of karthigai deepam and  an inaugural ritual is held with devotion on the morning of the culminating day - 9th  of the  festival. This year  2022, Bharani Deepam is lit around  between 4 am on December 6.

Happy Karthigai Thirunal 2022. greetings.pic

Performed before the main deity of the temple in the garbagriha (sanctum), it is an invocation to God Shiva (who is said to have appeared as a huge column of fire here). It has long been a tradition to show deepa aradhana to the primary deities in all temples, be they Vishnu, Sakthi or Shiva temples. A customary yagam is held by pundits  at the Artha Mandapam.  The temple's chief  priest does deepa aradhana before the deity and then lights up  five deepams in a small bowl containing ghee. During this time Tamil devotional  hymns eulogizing the presiding deities Annamalaiyar and Unnamulai Amman are sung as the Deepam is lit.  Then it will be shown to the limited gathering of  devotees there  to pay their obeisance to the deepams. 

What is unique about this early morning ritual - Bharani deepam is it is symbolic of God Shiva who is an embodiment of Pancha (five) boothas as mentioned earlier. If one element is missing, life can not be sustained on earth. Normally an oil  lamp with five wicks is called 'Bhadradeepam',  each of these five burning wicks is believed to represent five aspects (five duties  as well as five elements) of Lord Shiva. The strong belief has been that  auspicious light of the five-wick lamp or the bhadradeepam  will  bring in wealth and prosperity to the home.
At this temple God Shiva  - Arunachaleswar's  consort is Unnamalai Amman (Parvati). Bharani Deepam event is yet another auspicious one because in the Tamil month of Karthigai, on this day Karthigai  coincides  with Pournami (full Moon day). This does not happen in other months. 

Only upon the lighting of Bharani Deepam on the temple premises, preparations will be made to light up Maha Deepam in the evening at 6 pm. Before the event, the idol of God Shiva  in Arthanareeswarer Alangaram (Kolam; half male, half female) symbolic of inseparable male female aspects will be brought to the  main venue.  The huge Maha deepam will be lit up simultaneously atop the  2668 ft tall Arunachala hill at 6 pm in the evening.    After this event at all Hindu homes across Tamil nadu, women folks in the families will light up earthen oil lamps. 

The Tamil month of Karthigai (mid November to mid December) is an auspicious one  to offer prayers to God Shiva (who represents  Agni), God Muruga (Karthikaya) who appeared from Agni and Vishnu who protects his devotees who surrender to him, leaving behind, arrogance, ego, etc.  Pournami (full Moon day), Bharani Nakshatra and Somavaram (Monday) assume much religious importance in this month. Normally, people are advised by learned pundits to light up earthen oil lamps all through the Tamil month of Karthigai and particularly in the Bharani nakshatra time  and it is good for the well being and prosperity of the families. 

At homes Bharani deepam should be lit up before 6.30 pm a day before Karthigai Deepam day. Two oil lamps are kept at the entrance and one in the Puja room. Besides  5 earthen oil lamps on a brass plate (Thampalam) must be lit facing different directions symbolic of Pancha Bootha Thatvam that is essential for our survival, no matter where we live.  Further, it will bring in positive energy and  dispel all  dark and evil forces in the house. It means the ensing new year will be a prosperous one.