The Tamil month of Karthigai

  • The auspicious and celebrated Karthigai Maasam begins this year on November 17th and ends on December 16th. It is the eight month in the tamil year and derives its name from the Nakshatram or constellation of Krithika or Pleiades. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of this month and Shiva temples all over India are crowded with devotees practicing vows and oblations to honour and propitiate Him. In Tamil Nadu, there is an ancient religious custom which is still followed, that of waking up before dawn and serenading the Lord with melodious chants from the Tiruvempavai, a collection of devotional hymns praising Lord Shiva and bidding him to awaken and glorify the universe with his Light. Moreover, Ayyappa devotees start the 41-day Ayyappa Deeksha Vrittam and make the annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala during this month.

    In Tiruvannamalai, giri pradakshina is performed by many devotees early in the morning during this whole month. Mondays are specially dedicated to Shiva and the Karthigai Somavara Vritham is observed by many traditional devotees where-in they fast and do giri pradakshina and then offer special pujas to the Lord. Karthikai Maasam is also known for the deepams or lamps that are lit in every household and even in shops and business concerns at sunset every day. It is a lovely sight to walk down the streets after dark and see the numerous fire lamps glowing bravely at the entrance of every abode. Another special event of this month is the Mahabharani which is observed in all Shiva temples by lighting bonfires. It just precedes the Karthigai Deepam.

    The Karthigai month is also highly auspicious for Lord Muruga as the month is named after the six Krithika stars. Son of Lord Shiva, Muruga was born as 6 different babies and was looked after by the Six Krithika stars. Later Goddess Parvati joined the six babies to give birth to one form with six heads and thus Shanmukha or the 6 headed god was born. He is also called Karthikeya, Subramanya or Muruga. The famous Skanda Sashti festival dedicated to Lord Muruga in commemoration of his victorious battle against the demon Sooran also takes place this month.

    The most important festival of the month is the Karthikai Maha Deepam and readers probably know that this festival is of utmost significance in Tiruvannamalai and it is even called the Annamalai Deepam. It is believed that Lord Shiva gave darshan to the universe in the form of an infinite pillar of fire on this day. We will be seeing detailed descriptions about this festival in the coming posts. This year the Karthigai Amavasai or New Moon day is onĀ November 25th and the Karthigai Pournami or full moon day falls on December 10th.