ROWS OF agal vilakkus in front of every house…
that at once comes to mind when we think of Karthigai Deepam —
the festival of lights that is celebrated throughout Tamil Nadu during
the month of Karthigai (November-December). Not many of us are
aware that it is one of the oldest festivals celebrated in the State,
perhaps even before people began celebrating Deepavali and
Navarathri. Also, unlike many other Hindu festivals, Karthigai is
basically a Tamil festival and is virtually unknown in most other
parts of the country. One of the earliest references to the festival is
found in the Ahananuru, a book of poems, which dates back to the
Sangam Age (200 B.C. to 300 A.D.). The Ahananuru clearly states
that Karthigai is celebrated on the full moon day (pournami) of the
Tamil month of Karthigai. It was one of the most important festivals
(peruvizha) of the ancient Tamils.
At the household level, the celebration is geared towards inviting prosperity and abundance by lighting up mud lamps or deepams. The lamps are lit in the evening, and pooja is performed to Lord Shiva. In the local area, usually the lighting of household lamps takes place after the big fire is lit atop the Arunachala hill on the evening of Karthigai Deepam. It is quite moving to see the valley begin to flicker with the various lights across the households with the Full Moon shining the in sky above the hill where the fire is kept burning.
In addition, a variety of food offerings are made as offerings are also made to Lord Shiva. As per traditional custom, at least two mud lamps are lit and kept outside the house throughout the month of Karthigai.
Throngs of pilgrims gather in the valley below to make prayers and chant Om Namasivaya. Many of them will circumambulate the hill during the evening. The lighting of the fire on the Arunachala hill is also live broadcast over the Internet via webcam. People throughout the world light deepam lamps on this evening.
Some people sponsor feeding of the pilgrims as they do their spiritual walk, and others come in person to do service in cooking or passing out food and drink to those who are doing a walking vigil at the hill. JAGGERY USED WAS Organic Jaggery