- Submitted by Vijaylakshmi
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India is a country of varied culture and traditions. The variety of food, culture, festivals, and language makes it different from other countries. The pompousness and grandiose associated with each festival brings so much of cheer and positivity all around. One such important Hindu festival that is celebrated in Tamilnadu, Andhrapradesh and Kerala is Karthigai deepam or Karthigai vilakkeedu or Thirukkarthika.
Karthigai is a month in the Hindu calendar (mid November in English calendar) and also the name of one of the constellation (scientific name: Pleiades). The beauty of this constellation is that there are 6 cluster of star which appears in the shape of a pendant. This is also visible in the naked eye on a bright starry night. Karthigai deepam festival is celebrated on the full moon day of the Karthigai day on the Karthigai month. “Deepam” means lighted lamp and this festival is celebrated by lighting an array of earthen lamps all over our house. Lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol and it is believed to ward off evil forces and bring in lots of prosperity, joy, wealth and tons of positivity. A lighted lamp is essential for any festival but in Karthigai deepam it is indispensable.
In the constellation Karthigai there are 6 cluster of star which appears in the shape of a pendant. Hindu mythology portrays these six stars as six celestial nymphs (Karthigai pengal in Tamil) who were revered devotees of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva granted them a boon that in the right time they will mother and nurture lord Shiva’s child. When Surapadhman, a demon devotee of lord Shiva became powerful and ruthless due to the boons granted by Lord Shiva began harassing the people and saints, Brahma and Vishnu pleaded to lord Shiva to find a way to end surapadhman menace. Hence, lord Shiva from the power of his third eye created six babies and gave them to the Karthigai pengal. These Karthigai nurtured them and brought them up with utmost love and affection. These six children were then merged into one by goddess parvati and he was named karthikeya or muruga or shanmukha (sha meaning 6 and mukha meaning faced).
Lord Shiva further blessed the Karthigai pengal as ever living stars on the sky. They are worshipped by lighting up rows of oil lamps in the evening of the festival day around the houses and streets. Karthigai deepam is also known as Lord Muruga’s birthday. This festival is also celebrated to commemorate the brother sister bonding, something similar to Bhai dooj and Raksha bandhan. Sisters pray for the success and prosperity of their brothers and light lamps to mark the occasion.
Karthigai deepam is celebrated in a grand scale in Thiruvannamalai. It is believed that in Thiruvannamalai, Lord Shiva is in the form of Jyothi or a light of fire. On this day a special torch is lighted on the zenith of the mountain and it is believed that Lord Shiva’s Jyothi is visible on this day.
Aval pori and nel pori are the essential and important items that is made for Prasadam for Karthigai. In some houses the aval pori and nel pori are made as balls or urundai, while in some houses it is made like a paruppu thengai( the conical shape) to mark prosperity. We can also make Kadalai urundai along with vadai, appam and adai. In many houses payasams are also made for this festival.
Since the festival is celebrated in the evening, preparations for it can be made during the day. However some tips will always lend a helping hand.
- Buy an additional stock of Jaggery, peanuts, sesame oil (for lighting lamps) nel pori and aval pori in the grocery list for the festival.
- Buy new clay lamps or agal vilakku for the festival beforehand. Also wash the other brass and silver lamps in the house.
- On the festival day, soak grains for adai in the morning and make a batter of it. At about 2’0 clock in the afternoon, make the nel pori, aval pori and Kadalai urundai. This would take an approximate time of 1 hour.
- Begin making the payasam next and while the payasam is being cooked, make preparations for appam and vada. This would take another 1 hour at the maximum.
- Then get the house and yourself ready for the festival.
- At about 5:30 start frying appam and vada. Initially for the Prasadam you could make 4-8 numbers in each variant. Then make the adai. Now you are all set.
- At 6’o clock, light the lamp in front of god, do prayers and offer all the prasadams. The light lamps in front of your house and in the rooms.
Enjoy celebrating this festival in fullest fervor and bring in all positivity and prosperity in your households.
Special Recipes For Karthigai Deepam Festival
Payasam (Kheer) Varieties