What does Kathigai Deepam mean, and why do we celebrate it gloriously?
Sri Ramana Maharshi described the meaning of this event in this way: “Getting rid of the `I am the body’ idea and merging the mind into the Heart to realize the Self as a non-dual being and the light of all is the real significance of darshan of the beacon of light on Annamalai, the centre of the universe.”
Touted to be an auspicious symbol to ward off evil forces, we will be witnessing a row of clay lamps (Agal Vilakku) lit in every house and outside on the threshold.
As we are celebrating the auspicious day (Full Moon Day in the month of Karthigai), the nakshatra details will be changing every year, and for this year, the nakshatra details can be seen below:
As Karthigai Deepam is lit up at 6.00 pm sharp each year on the top of the Thiruvannamalai hill, we may start to light up the lamps at the same time as the temple lights up.
Karthigai Nakshathram Begins – 08:38 am on Dec 06, 2022
Karthigai Nakshathram Ends – 10:25 am on Dec 07, 2022
Having said that, let’s delve into the great history of the light of Gods.
Significance & Mythology of Karthigai Deepam
Besides having multiple stories behind this grand festival of Tamil Nadu, here are a couple of the most notable ones.
The Legend of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu
The ancient tale connected to this festival describes how Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu once got into a dispute over who had the most amount of strength and power.
Lord Shiva, who had taken the form of a fire, intervened to call for an end to the dispute by posing a question of which part of the flame—the top or bottom—was the greatest.
For this, Brahma took the form of a swan, and Vishnu took the form of a boar and dug deep to find the bottom. Both their efforts proved to be futile, as Lord Shiva (fire) continues to grow in size. The day this incident took place was on the full moon of Karthigai month, and later it's believed that Lord Shiva appeared on a hill at Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. Till today, the Shivan temple in Thiruvannamalai holds a grand Karthigai Deepam celebration.
The story of six celestial nymphsLord Muruga took the form of six flames that emerged from the eyes of Lord Shiva. These flames took the form of six babies and accumulated in a lake known as 'Saravana Poigai'.
As a result, the six celestial nymphs gave the six forms their names: Dula, Nitatni, Abhrayanti, Varshayanti, Meghayanti, and Chipunika. Goddess Parvati gathered these nymphs on this day, and thereafter Lord Muruga is also worshiped on Karthikai Deepam.
According to another legend, Karthigai Deepam also hails the triumph of Goddess Parvati over the demon Mahishasura by lighting lamps. The festival symbolizes the spiritual and material triumphs of virtue over evil.
Mind-blowing facts & History of Thiruvannamalai (Arunachaleswarar Swamy) TempleSpeaking about Arunachala, let’s have a look at the history of the Thiruvannamalai (Arunachalam) Temple - a sacred Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva and perceived to be one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams (five elements) of the supreme being in Shaivism which represents, Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Sky.
Located at the base of the Annamalai Hills in the South India state of Tamil Nadu, India, the presiding deity is in the form of Agni Lingam (Fire Element). According to the Shiva Purana [ancient Shiva epic], there are four most sacred places where one can achieve liberation or salvation.
Tiruvannamalai's Arunachaleswarar Temple is one among them.
One of the verses in the Arunachala Mahatmyam, translated from Sanskrit into Tamil by Sri Ramana Maharshi says:
“Arunachala is truly the holy place. Of all holy places, it is the most sacred! Know that it is the heart of the world. It is truly Siva himself! It is his heart abode, a secret kshetra. In that place, Bhagwan Shiva ever abides the hill of light named Arunachala.”
As Karthigai Deepam is celebrated grandly at this temple, millions of pilgrims will flock to witness the real significance of the darshan of the beacon of light on Annamalai.
Benefits of Observing Karthigai Deepam
The day before Karthigai Deepam is known as Bharani Deepam. Light some lamps on this day and place them at your entrance. Worshiping Lord Shiva and warrior-deity Muruga on Karthigai Deepam can bestow the following benefits on you:
- Remove the darkness in the form of negativities
- Fulfillment of wishes
- Bestow auspiciousness, prosperity, and happiness
- Put an end to worries and help attain inner peace
- Vanquish pride and self-centeredness
Have a blessed Karthigai Deepam. May our lives shine and glow as brightly as deepam!
Source: Athma Gnana Maiyam
Image Credit: Wallpaper Safari, Ado trip, The Pioneer