KarthikaiDeepam

Karthikai Deepam or Karthikai vilakkidu is a Hindu and Tamil, Festival of Lights. The festival is observed in most Hindu homes and every temple, and falls in the month of Kārttikai (mid-November to mid-December) as per Tamil calendar. This occurs on the day when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai (Pleiades) and pournami. This constellation appears as a group of six stars in the firmament in the shape of a pendant from the ear.

Many legends and lyrical poetry have grown round this star. The six stars are considered in Indian mythology as the six celestial nymphs who reared the six babies in the saravana tank which later were joined together to form the six faced Muruga. He is therefore called Karthikeya, the incarnation of lord Shiva as his second son after lord Ganesha. Stories tells lord shiva created Muruga from his 3rd eye of six primary faces (Tatpurusam, Aghoram,Sadyojatam,Vamadevam,Eesanam, Adhomukam . Stories tells the six forms made into six child and each of them brought up by the six Karthigai nymphs and later merged into one by his mother Parvati.

While merging he also formed into a six faced (Arumugam and twelve handed god. The Lord muruga is also portrayed with his six plays and worshiped with six names.

As the six nymphs helped in growing the six child, lord shiva blessed immortality to the six nymphs as ever living stars on the sky. Any worship performed to this six stars is equal to worshiping lord muruga himself. They are worshiped by lit up with rows of oil lamps (Deepam) in the evening of the festival day around the souses and streets. Karthikai Deepam is also known as Kartikeya, or Muruga’s birthday.

One of the earliest references to the festival is found in the Aganaanooru, a book of poems, which dates back to the Sangam Age (200 B.C. to 300 A.D.). The Aganaanooru clearly states that Karthigai is celebrated on the full moon day (pournami) of the month of Karthigai, as per South Indian calendar. It was one of the most important festivals (peruvizha) of the ancient Tamils, including now the areas of modern Kerala too. Avaiyyar, the renowned poetess of those times, refers to the festival in her songs. Karthikai Deepam is one of the oldest festivals celebrated by Tamil people. The festival finds reference in Sangam literature like Akanaṉūṟu and the poems of Auvaiyar.

Rows of Agal vilakkus (Clay Oil lamps) are lit in every house. Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol. It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy. While the lighted lamp is important for all Hindu rituals and festivals, it is indispensable for Karthigai. This festival is also celebrated to commemorate the bonding between brothers and sisters in south India(analogous to Bhaiya-Dhuj and Raakhi). Sisters pray for the prosperity and success of their brothers and light lamps to mark the occasion.