Thrikarthika festival Kerala, a brief note

Karthika Deepam (Thrikarthika) festival,Kerala

Karthigai deepam festival, Kerala  Vaikom temple.

Karthigai Deepam, an ancient festival, often associated with God Shiva and  God Muruga (Karthikaya) is more popular in Tamil nadu than other states because the main venue is the historical temple of Arunachaleswar temple, Thiruvannamai, North Tamil Nadu. It is one of the pancha Bootha sthalams associated with Agni (fire), one of the 5 essential natural elements to survive in this world. For example without optimum sustainable heat in our body we can not survive. Likewise without the Sun, the planet will be perished. So are the other elements of nature like air, water, earth and sky.  This festival gives much importance to the  lighting of oil lamps preferably earthen lamps (made from clay) and the the  spiritual significance is  getting rid of ignorance, ego and gaining knowledge, enlightenment and  caring for the welfare of the society as a whole. The wick in the lamp is symbolic of our ego, the oil nurtures bad traits  like ego and the flame symbolises  spiritual wisdom and knowledge. The act of lighting the oil lamps implies getting rid of  all the bad things in us that retard our  progress in life by way of  burning  it out. Our positivity in us is accentuated to a large extend.  This deepam festival also hails the victory of Goddess Parvati over the demon Mahishasura,  symbolizing  the victory of good over evil forces.  With the third eye  (in the forehead) Lord Shiva creates  Lord Muruga (Karthikaya) with 6 faces (here they represent gunas) as his son who is brought up by  six nymphs  (called the Karthigai Pengal)  as six beautiful babies on Goddess Parvati's request. So this festival has links with god Karthikaya.  

Karthika Deepam (Thrikarthika) festival,Kerala

In the state of Kerala this festival is celebrated by devout Hindus as Thirukarthika Or Karthika Villakku in the Karthika nakshatra in the Malayalam month of Vrichikam (on the full moon day). 

This festival is widely celebrated in South Kerala the same day karthigai deepam is held in neighboring Tamil nadu where the Hindu familes light up the earthen lamps at 6 pm  after Maha Deepam is lit atop the Arunachala Hill at Thiruvannamalai. In the Kerala homes, apart from lighting thiruvillakku at home and in many Shiva temple, the family members give importance to the places used by cattle and clean the cow sheds and decorate them.  

Karthika Puzhukku is made of grated coconuts, tapioca, yam, tubers, etc., is a mouth watering delicacy prepared on that day. Unlike Tamil nadu or else, there are no mythological stories related to Thirukarthica. However, much attention is focused on the worship of Bhagavati, a from of parvati, consort of God Shiva. The other belief prevailing among a large section of people is this festival marks the birth of Karthikaya (Subramanya or Muruga);  hence devout Hindus never fail to visit the nearby temples dedicated to god Subramanya and offer prayers there.  Hindus living near the state border areas close to Palani visit the hill temple of Palani (dedicated to god Subramanya) in Tamil Nadu, one of god's  six abodes. Also known as Shanmukha, God Subramanya's six faces have the following attributes (specified in literature named sri kanda puranam (Skanda Purana):

 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