Karthigai, a Tamil festival In the mountainous town of Tiruvannamalai, Deepam is celebrated with great zeal and dedication. Deepam signifies “light,” while karthigai is the Tamil month. Every year on the full moon day of the month of Karthigai on the day of Krittika star, a beacon of light is kindled atop the Arunachala hill and worshipped.
According to the Puranas, Tiruvannamalai is one of the panchamahabhootas embodying the element of fire. Agnishetra is named after Lord Shiva, who appeared as an endless column of light before Vishnu and Brahma. The temple’s linga form of Shiva is known as Agni Linga.
Arunachala Hill Legend
Brahma and Vishnu competed for mastery of their respective powers. Shiva adopted the shape of Jyothi, or light, to educate them that all powers reside with the everlasting Brahman, personified as Shiva. He urged Brahma and Vishnu to discover the origin and finish of Shiva’s luminous form. He stated that the most successful would be the greatest.
Vishnu took the shape of a boar, Varaha, and delved deep into the soil to locate the source of the light. To locate the end of this blazing light, Brahma adopted the shape of a swan. Both attempts failed because the massive pillar of light had no beginning or conclusion. Both prayed respectfully to Shiva, asking for pardon. Every year on this day, the light appears in the form of a hill and is worshipped to drive away from the bad forces in our lives and invite the blessings of Holy Shiva.
Karthigai Deepam’s Magnificence
Through poetry and verses, the scriptures extol the majesty of the hill. In his literary writings, Sage Sankara refers to this hill as Mount Meru. Some consider it to be Sri Chakra, and saints such as Sambandar have written in their writings that the light seen on top of the mountain on this day is Arunachala himself.
On the day of the Karthigai deepam celebration, the Mahadeepam is lit on this sacred hill. Shiva’s holy forces manifested as light, are diffused throughout the universe. It is stated that just seeing this holy light is enough to burn away the mountains of evil karma amassed over many incarnations. Worshiping this light on this day will bring wealth, the settlement of long-standing disputes, tranquility, and moksha.
Muruga and Krittika the Star
Lord Muruga appeared as six blazing sparks from Shiva’s third eye on the start day of kritikka in the month of Karthigai. The six sparks became six kids, and Goddess Parvati joined them as one in the sacred lake of Sravana, also known as the Ganges. Muruga’s birth is crucial in the eradication of evil and the victory of truth. Today, Lord Muruga is summoned, and prayers are presented to him by burning ghee lamps in the home, as well as special food offerings.