Today it is Karthigai Deepam Festival.
This day denotes the occurrence of the Karthigai Nakshatram every month, as per the Tamil Calendar.
Coming to its history,Brahma and Vishnu were both quarrelling about their relative superiority. To give a decision on it and to kill their ego, Lord Siva stood before them in the form of a blazing mountain. Having failed in their attempt to find out its top and bottom the two prayed to Lord Siva for His grace. He blessed them saying that he would appear in the form of Jothi (light) on the top of the hill every year on the day of Karthigai in the month of Karthigai. To commemorate this event, the Deepam (Light) festivals is being conducted at Tiruvannamalai every year.
The Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai(November-December). It begins on Uttradam day with flag hoisting and goes on for nine days.
Of the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether, fire is considered important as being in the middle. Adding Sun, Moon and Soul to these it is said that God exposes Himself in eight forms "Ashtamurthams". So the Vedas, Agamas and Puranas extol God as Rudragni Sivajothi and Paramjudar. Just as fire destroys impurity in anything, God destroy the darkness of ignorance and egoism in men and blesses them with the light of wisdom. This is short is the philosophic truth behind the celebration of the festival. Something should be said about the festival proper which will be of use to devout piligrim.
Between the raising and the lowering of the flag, the temple is the scene of two types of activity during the day: each morning and evening the five deities, Shiva, the goddess, Subrahmanya, Ganapati, and Chandikeshvara, go around the car-streets in procession; before leaving, they present themselves in front of the sacrificial hall where the fire-ritual is performed twice a day, and receive on their foreheads a protective black spot made of ash mixed with ghee. On the seventh day the same deities, each on a huge wooden car, are led in turn around the four temple streets in a procession which lasts the whole day.
In the early hours of the tenth day Bharani Deepam in five agantams will be lit in Arunachaleswarar's Sannithi. In the evening the Pancha Murthis will be brought to the Katchi Mantapam. At duck(Pradosha) the Karthigai day synchronising with the full moon day, the deity, Ardhanareeswarar is taken out to this place with the five deepams which are put in a big receptacle near the flag-stuff. At the same time the beacon light on the hill is lit. The huge concourse of devotees from all parts of our country in a million voice raise a cry cimultaneously "Harohara to Annamalai" which will rend the air. It is a sight for the Gods to see. On the hill top there is a big copper turn in which large quantities of camphor, ghee and wicks(of cloths) are poured and when these are lighted it will be seen from miles around for somedays after the Deepam festival day. We do not have such a huge light in any other place of our country. On the same night the eleven storeyed Gopuram is also lit with "Ahals"(earthern oil lamps) set in rows in all the storeys. Though this festival is special to Tiruvannamalai it is common throught the Tamil country. Lighting festival is celebrated in all the temples of South India including Vishnu temples. All the houses will also be illuminated with number of lamps being arranged in rows to give beautiful appearance.
It is ordained that a pilgrim to Tiruvannamalai for this festival should take one meal on the previous(Bharani) day, worship Bharani Deepam during the early hours on the Karthigai Deepam day, go round the hill walking the entire distance of eight miles, see on the way Adi(Ani)Annamalai temple and fasting completely that day should see the lighting that evening. He should take food only the next day. The intrinsic truth about seeing the light may be summed up thus; "Body is the hill; mind the vessel; love the wick; incessant meditation the ghee; breath the camphor and wisdom the fire. To light this flame and dispel the darkness is the effect produced on one who sees the light".
Eventhough it is a long post, hope it will be useful for all of us to know the history hidden behind the Karthigai Festival.
Lights in my door steps and balcony toda to celebrate Karthigai Festival.
Similar to Diwali,Children light crackers during Karthigai festival too. We too playe with crackers in our balcony today to celebrate Karthigai festival.
To Celebrate this festival, we prepared Sago kheer for Pooja.
Sago Kheer / Javvarasi Payasam
Sago - 50g
Sugar - 1 cup or about 10 tsp
Milk - 2 cups or 300ml
Cashew Nuts – 10
Raisins - 10
Cardamoms - 5 (powder finely)
Ghee - 4 tsp
Heat ghee in a small pan. Fry cashews, raisins in ghee until cashews turn little brown. Remove this from ghee and set aside. In the same ghee, add sago and fry a while and keep aside.
Add fried sago in a pressure cooker with 2 full tall glass of water. Close the lid and let it to cook for 4 whistles in high flame. Open the lid once pressure is released.
Meanwhile bring milk to boil in a pan without adding water. Now add cooked sago, sugar, and cardamom powder in the boiling milk. Let it to cook in simmer flame until we get a semi-thick or kheer consistency. Delicious sago payasam is ready to serve in this stage. Switch off the flame.
Transfer the content in small bowls and garnish it with fried cashews and raisins.