Karthigai Deepam: Festival of Lamps

Karthigai Deepam can be described as the festival of lamps. It is one of the oldest Tamil festivals, and ushers in joy and prosperity. This festival is celebrated during October-November. It is a continuation of the festival of lights, which is Diwali.

Legend of Karthigai Deepam

There is an interesting legend of Karthigai Deepam involving Lord Shiva (Arunachaleshwara) in Tiruvannamalai. Once, Vishnu and Brahma, puffed up with ego, argued about who was the more powerful. Lord Shiva humbled both by rising as a huge tower of fire. The two quarreling Gods could not scale Lord Shiva’s manifestation. To commemorate this legend, a huge cauldron is lit atop Tiruvannamalai hill.

There is another interesting story of Karthigai Deepam which involves Lord Murugan. He gave birth as six babies springing from six sparks, which emanated from Lord Shiva’s third eye. Goddess Parvati embraced the six infants who became conjoined into one.

Celebrating Karthigai Deepam

As mentioned earlier, Tamil people celebrate Karthigai Deepam as a continuation of Diwali. Following Diwali, they increase the number of lamps in their houses until Karthigai Deepam. Some people observe this festival for three days until full moon day. Each house arrays little lamps which are pleasing to see. Rangolis are drawn on which these glowing lamps are kept. Similar to Diwali, fireworks are burnt in celebration. Temples hold special prayers and they are also brightly lit up. Karthigai Deepam is thus celebrated to usher in happiness, prosperity, peace and fresh hope.

Spiritual Significance

There is a deep spiritual meaning to the lighting of lamps during Karthigai Deepam. The oil in the lamp symbolises our mind’s innate tendencies on which our ego thrives. The wick symbolises the ego. The flame denotes spiritual knowledge, which consumes the oil and the wick. Thus, by draining and burning our base tendencies and ego, we attain self-realization. The flickering flames of the lamps symbolise universal oneness.

Wish you a Happy Karthigai Deepam!

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