Karthigai Deepam is celebrated in the state of Tamil Nadu. This is a significant festival that people in South India celebrate with much devotion and enthusiasm. This is a festival of lights and lamps and hence the name Karthigai Deepam where Deepam means light and Karthigai is the Tamil month. Thus it is a festival of light that occurs in the month of Karthigai as per the Tamil calendar.
The festival is greatly celebrated in a grand manner in Arunachala hill. Every year it occurs in Karthigai month on a full moon day which coincides with the Krittika star.
The temple at Tiruvannamalai Deepam is decorated with lights and lamps, and a grand Deepam is lit. The flame of this Deepam represents Lord Muruga and also Lord Shiva as per the legends. Lord Shiva once appeared in the form of a flame before Lord Brahma and Vishnu. At least, both lords agreed that Lord Shiva is superior in the Universe and is the ultimate creator and protector of everything. Hence in the form of Karthigai Deepam, people celebrate Lord Shiva and their flame avatar.
The place hence is also known as Agnishetra or the region of fire, and the Shiva form is known as Agni Linga.
Legend of Arunachala Hill
Once in the Universe, both Lords Brahma and Vishnu were arguing over who is the Supreme of two. These arguments went on and became into a fight where both were representing themselves as supreme than the other.
Seeing their arguments, all the Devas sensed the problematic situation. To stop them right there, they approached Lord Shiva. Shiva listened to the scenario and made a plan. Lord Shiva went to both Lords in the form of a giant flame. He asked the Lords to find the beginning of the end of the fire. The one who would find it first would be the supreme.
Both lords agreed upon it, and Lord Vishnu converted himself into a boar to reach the depth of the flame. Lord Brahma turned into a swan and flew in the sky to explore the beginning of the flame. After months of research, no one could find any end of the flame, and they returned back. Here Lord Shiva made it clear that it was Shiva who is the supreme and who has no end.
Both Lords understood what Lord Shiva was trying to say, and they agreed that Shiva is the Supreme. The whole Universe was again brought to peace, and everyone went on to their duties.
This form of the flame of Shiva appeared in the Arunachala hill, and hence a temple was later built to respect Shiva and to memorize the heavenly event forever. It is said that the hill itself is the sacred light of Lord Shiva, which is worshipped every year during Karthigai Deepam. The place wards off any evil power and provides the blessings of Shiva to the devotees.
The Greatness of Karthigai Deepam
There are many scriptures in which Karthigai Deepam is mentioned. Many popular sages have included this event in their work where they refer to the sacred hill and the legend that took place. Some sages refer that the light which was seen on the day is the Arunachala himself.
On this sacred day, the priest lights up the Mahadeepam or the great lamp whose flame represents the flame avatar of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Lord Shiva appears in the form of a flame on this very day and the holy light has the power to burn all bad karmas of the souls who visit this place. Worshipping the light on Karthigai Deepam blesses the devotees with Shiva’s blessings in the form of prosperity, peace, resolutions, and moksha.
Muruga and Star Krittika
There is another legend related to this day which represents the star kritikka. It is believed that this is the birth star of Lord Muruga and birth month as well. Lord Muruga was created from the six fiery sparks of Lord Shiva, who was later turned into one baby by Goddess Paravati when she got to know about the six flames.
Lord Muruga is worshipped on this day, and people offer him prayers. He is the destroyer of evil and hence provides shelter, safety, and courage to his devotees.