Karthigai Deepam is the festival of lamps celebrated in Tamil Nadu (November – December).It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Tamil month of Karthigai. Different names - Malai deepam,Annamalai deepam,Vishnu deepam,Thirukarthigai. This year, Thiru Karthigai falls on 5th Dec 2014.
Karthigai Deepam - Stories for Children
Legend of Siva
Once Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma were quarrelling and claiming themselves as "greatest". In order to teach them a lesson, Lord Siva appeared before them and asked them to find out the exact location of his head and his feet. Meanwhile, he transformed himself into a huge pillar of fire. Accordingly Brahma assumed the form of a swan and moved upwards. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and started digging deep into the earth. Even after searching for many years, they were not able to find the ends of the pillar. Accepting their defeat, they prayed to Lord Siva that the blazing pillar should establish itself as a Hill.
Then Lord Shiva takes the form of a jyothi (light of fire) on the hill of Thiruvannamali. Therefore, this festival is also known as Annamalai Deepam. Here, a special torch is lighted every year on the zenith of the hill and it is believed that Lord Shiva's jothi will be visible on this day.
Legend of Muruga
Karthigai Deepam is celebrated on the full moon day of the Karthigai month which coincides with the Krithigai Star. The month of Karthigai is of special importance to the Tamil people, which derives its name from the star “Krithigai”. It was in this month that Lord Siva created Lord Muruga from his Divine Light. Lord Muruga took the form of six babies in a lake called “Saravana Poigai.” On this day, all his six forms were united by his mother Parvathi, and he became “Arumugan” (the form with six faces). Special pujas are performed for Lord Muruga on this day. Lord Muruga is worshipped as the reigning deity of Tamil Nadu.
While lighting the lamp (diYa,) it is good to recite this.
"Deepam-jyothi para-brahma Deepam jyothi Janardhanaha Deepo Haratume Papam Sandhyaa deepam namo-stute"
'I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp whose light is Supreme Knowledge which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be achieved. '
'Vilakke Thiru Vilakke ....... '
விளக்கே ! திருவிளக்கே ! வேந்தன் உடன் பிறப்பே!
ஜோதி மணிவிளக்கே ஸ்ரீதேவி பொன்மணியே
அந்தி விளக்கே அலங்கார நாயகியே
காந்தி விளக்கே காமாக்ஷித் தாயாரே
பசும்பொன் விளக்கு வைத்துப் பஞ்சுத்திரி போட்டுக்
குளம்போல நெய்விட்டுக் கோலமுடன் ஏற்றி வைத்தேன்
ஏற்றினேன் நெய்விளக்கு, எந்தன் குடிவிளங்க
வைத்தேன் திருவிளக்கு மாளிகையும் தான்விளங்க
மாளிகையில் ஜோதியுள்ள மாதாவைக் கண்டுகொண்டேன்
the lamps lit symbolically represent knowledge, victory and peace. Muruga as Kumaraguru is believed to have taught the meaning of ‘OM’ to Lord Shiva. Thus the lamps lit on the day are in remembrance of sharing the ultimate knowledge of ‘OM.’ The knowledge of OM helps in enlightenment and emancipation.
Another legend associated with Karthigai Deepam is that King Bali surrendered before Lord Vishnu. King Bali attained moksha by surrendering all his wealth and himself before Lord Vishnu. Special offerings made from puffed rice and beaten rice is believed to be due to this legend.
In another episode, Goddess Umadevi once playfully closed the eyes of her beloved, which plunged the world into darkness. All living beings suffered in the dark. The universal mother felt for her folly and separated herself from her companion. Mother started worshipping Lord Shiva in the form of Linga to absolve herself of this sin and to reunite with him. Lord Vishnu, (or Adi Kesava Perumal, enshrined at Thiruchenkode, a unique Ardhanareeshwara temple) instructed Shakthi on the Kedara Gowri Vratam to be performed to unite with Shiva.
When she reached Kancheepuram, Lord Shiva ordered her to proceed to Thiruvannamalai and do her penance. Likewise Mother Parvathi did penance at Pavalakundru with the help of Saint Gowthama.
A demon called Makishasuran disturbed the penance of Mother Parvathi. The Mother took the form of goddess Durga Devi and destroyed him on the full moon day of the Tamil Month of Karthigai during the auspicious period of pradosham.
LORD SHIVA presented himself in the form of FIRE ATOP THE HILL and merged Goddess Parvathi on the left half of his body. This day of Supreme merger is celebrated as Karthigai Deepam. To commemorate this event, every year during the festival of Annamalai Deepam, Lord Arthanareeswaramurthi presents himself as Jyothi Swaroopa to his devotees.
Choka Panai is burnt in Shiva and Vishnu temples on this day.
The fire in choka panai symbolises destruction of impurity,bad evil and bad thoughts.It is believed that God destroy the darkness of ignorance and egoism in men and blesses them with the light of wisdom.