Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated in the Tamil Month
of Karthigai (November - December). It begins on Uttradam
day with flag hoisting and goes on the nine days. In the
early hours of the tenth day Bharani Deepam in five agantams
will be lit in Arunachaleswarar's Sannithi. In the evening,
the Pancha Murthis will be brought to the Katchi Mandapam.
At dusk (Pradosha) the Karthigai day synchronizing with the
full moon day, the deity, Ardhanareeswarar is taken out to
this place with the five deepams, which are put in a big
receptacle near the flug-stuff. At the same time the beacon
light on the hill is lit. The huge concourse of devotees
from all parts of our country in a million voice raise a cry
simultaneously "Harohara to Annamalai" which will
air. It is a sight for the Gods to see.
ROWS OF agal vilakkus in front of every house... this is the
image 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.
Avaiyyar, the renowned poetess of those times, refers to the
festival in her songs.
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.
There is an interesting story explaining the link between
Karthigai and lamps. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu and Lord
Brahma began to quarrel as to who was the more powerful of
the two. While they were fighting, Lord Shiva appeared
before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord
Vishnu and Lord Brahma gave up quarrelling and decided to
find the top and the bottom of the pillar.
Accordingly, Brahma assumed the form of a swan and moved
upwards. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and started
digging deep into the earth. But even after searching for
several years, neither of the two was able to find the ends
the pillar. Finally, they realised that the pillar was none
other than Lord Shiva.
Soon afterwards, Lord Shiva appeared as a hill (Arunachala
Hill) at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. Indeed, the very
names `Tiruvannamalai' and `Arunachala' translate as `holy
fire hill.' The Shivalinga in the temple here is the agni
linga. The tiny lamps lit during the Karthigai festival (Karthigai
Deepam) are believed to be the miniature replicas of the
fire linga. Every year thousands of devotees from Chennai
and elsewhere flock to Tiruvannamalai to see the spectacular
Karthigai Deepam there.
This town Thiruvannamalai is situated in 187 kilometers
away from Chennai, formerly known as Madras- Capital of
Tamil Nadu and there is a railway station on the villupuram
- Katpadi rail route. This town stands on an elevation of
266ft ( 79.80 M ) above sea level.