Significance of Karthigai Deepam


Pic courtesy: Deccan Chronicle

Happy Karthigai Deepam to everyone!!

Karthigai Deepam is celebrated during the month of Karthikai (Nov – Dec) primarily in Tamil Nadu. People light oil lamps in the evening and celebrate with sweets and fire crackers. This is a very ancient festival and has references in Sangam literatures ageing back to 2500 years.

It is said that lord Muruga is born from the sparks from lord Shiva’s third eye. These sparks transform into six babies on six lotuses and are raised by the six fairies called Karthikas ro ‘Karthigai Pengal’ in Tamil. Later, with goddess Parvathi’s blessings, the six children unite into one called ‘Muruga’ or ‘Karthikeya’. Shiva then blesses the karthikas with immortality and the fairies transform into the Krithika star in the sky. Krithika also known as Karthika (Pleiades) is a cluster of stars in the Taurus constellation.

Lord Shiva, the higher consciousness is omnipresent and is endless. He is found everywhere and has neither a beginning nor an end. To demonstrate this to Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, it is said lord Shiva appeared as a pillar of light that had no beginning or end.

During this time, in Thiruvannamalai hills, a huge oil lamp is lit and devotees go around the hill to take his blessings. This is called Girivalam in Tamil, where Giri means hill.

Religious stories always had a hidden truth. It is for us to look into these stories to pull out the truth. Truth is multidimensional isn’t it?

So what’s the hidden significance of Karthigai Deepam?

The goal of the soul, whether we believe or not, is to attain moksha or enlightenment. We love freedom and so does our soul. Its goal is to eventually liberate and become one with the higher consciousness from where it came from; to get back to the source. Our ancestors were keen on this and did anything and everything they could do to attain this liberation. Every festival in Hinduism was celebrated for this. At a superficial level, though every celebration brought people together and made us joyful, the primary goal was to help attain moksha. Karthikai Deepam is yet another festival to help us reach our goal.

The six children on six lotuses simply refer to the Sakthi energy when at the six main chakras (Muladhara, Swadishtana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishudda and Ajna). The Sakthi or Kundalini energy from the Muladhara rises up through the different chakras and eventually unites one with Shiva or the higher consciousness who is readily waiting above our head, in the Swadishtana chakra. This is the enlightenment process. In this process, when the Sakthi energy reaches the Ajna chakra, just one level before it enlightens, it is at the peak of awareness. It is the crystal consciousness, when the mind is no more in the fluid state but is crystal clear. It is the most beautiful state one can be in, before attaining enlightenment. Once we attain enlightenment, there is no more ‘us’. We dissolve. The energy at the Ajna is the most beautiful one, before we dissolve. This energy as it passes through all the other chakras and reaches the Ajna, refers to the unification of six children into one. It refers to Muruga. Thus, Muruga is no god elsewhere, but the energy in us that transforms into the most beautiful one, Muruga when it reaches the Ajna.

Giri means hill or the peak and the peak on us is our head. Meditating on this auspicious day will help rise our Sakthi energy to bring to the top chakra. Bringing this to the peak and uniting with the divine light, Shiva is the significance of the lamp lighting and girivalam in Thiruvannamalai.

This is the significance of Karthigai Deepam.

Have we ever wondered why all Hindu festivals are celebrated with respect to the position of the moon? All festivals including Ganesha Chathurthi, Navrathri, Deepavali, Karthigai Deepam, Maha Shivarathri, Pradhosham, Ekadesi are all celebrated either on full moon day, new moon day or any other specific thithi (thithi is a lunar day).

The Moon plays a very significant part in our lives. This is a very powerful energy and decides when our karma will unfold (this is a separate topic of discussion by itself). Moon represents water, moon represents our mind. This means the mind in general, is in a fluid state. The earth is made up of 70% water and so are we. This is why we see high tides on full moon and new moon days; and tides in our minds too. If our mind is balanced, we are more balanced on these days and if we are off the balance, we tend to get more imbalanced on these days. The Moon has a direct impact on our minds. Thus, we see these festivals being celebrated during the various positions of the moon, for each position has a significant impact on the mind.

There are two deepams during this festival, Barani Deepam and Karthigai Deepam. Astrologically, when the moon is in the Barani nakshatra, it is Barani Deepam. As it moves to the next star Krithika in Risha or Taurus rasi, it is Karthigai Deepam.

The moon in Kirthika is a full moon and additionally, being in Rishaba rasi, it is an exalted moon. This is the most powerful of all moons.

Let’s meditate during this most powerful exalted full moon day and help uplift our energies to the next chakra. We don’t want it to be in the Muladhara, do we?

Happy Karthigai Deepam to everyone!!

Categories: Festivals, Manuscript

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