Karthigai Deepam is an ancient and famous festival of Tamilnadu. It is observed on the full moon day of Karthikai month (November-December) of Tamil Hindu calendar.
In the year of 2014 the date for Karthigai Deepam is on Friday, December 5th
Karthigai Deepam is considered as the extension of Diwali as it is celebrated by lightning of traditional oil lamps in the evening after sunset. Special celebrations are held in Thiruvannamalai town of Tamilnadu where it is also known as Annamalai Deepam. A special torch is lighted on the top of the Annamalai hill called Lord Shiva’s Jyothi. It is believed that witnessing the Jyothi bestows the divine vision and blessings of Lord Shiva.
Karthigai Deepam is associated with a very interesting story. Once Lord Brahma had a doubt about his supremacy over Lord Vishnu and began to debate on this. Lord Shiva appeared at the spot and transformed himself in the form of a huge pillar of fire. He asked both of them to find out the top and bottom of the pillar.
Brahma took the form of swan and started moving upwards to find out the top and Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar and started digging the earth to find out the bottom of the pillar. The search went on for several years but neither of them could find the ends of the pillar. Finally they gave up the search and regretted their quarrel.
After that Lord Shiva transformed himself as a hill, called Arunachala Hill, at Tiruvannamalai. It is said that this hill is emanates Jyothi or light and hence called ‘Arunachala’ or ‘Tiruvannamalai’. There is huge temple on the Arunachala hill where the Shivalinga is known as ‘Agni Linga’. Thousands of devotees flock here to lit tiny lamps which are meant as miniature replicas of the fire linga. The lamps are lit with the same spirit in houses with ardent belief in Lord Shiva.
On the day of Karthigai Deepam people clean their houses. Front portion of the house is decorated with Kolams (rangoli). They lit lamps and place them everywhere in a decorative manner. Eloborate pooja or Deeparathana is done in the evening. All them wear don new dresses and decorate the locality with lamps. Children and young people burn crackers. Some celebrate this for three days or five days or nine days. In this way, the people of Tamilnadu celebrate the festival with great enthusiasm.
Special celebrations are held at the site of Arunachala Hill where thousands of devotees flock to see the huge lamp ‘Tiruvannamalai Bharani Deepam.’ This deepam comprises of a huge, colossal circular metal vessel that holds about 2,000 liters of ghee. The wick of the lamp is made up of 30 meters and about 2 kilos of camphor is burnt to lit the lamp. It is claimed that on the evening of the festival the lamp can be seen upto the 35 km radius around the hill.