Karthik – the word signifies many things – the 8th month of the Hindu calendar, and also the 3rd Nakshatram, or star, according to the Indian system of astrology. Most of all, it is one of the names of Muruga, the son of Shiva and Parvati, a name he earned, having been nurtured by the Krittikas – 6 young girls born under the Karthik star, who picked up the 6 babies born of Shiva’s sparks from the river ganga, and who merged to take the form of Karthikeya.
Karthikai Deepam is a festival celebrating this event, falling in the Karthik month on the day when the Karthik star shines above us. It is, in a way, the south Indian equivalent of Diwali, for we celebrate this day by lighting lamps all over our house.
The first day of the festival falls on the day when the ascendant star is Bharani, and is hence called “Bharani Deepam”. In our house, it is this day which is special, and we prepare a special confection of Nell Pori (paddy flakes) and Aval Pori (puffed paddy flakes). For dinner, we also make Adai (a thicker variety of Dosa) with whole grains.
Here are my pics of the celebrations – mostly my kolam with the lamps……. Sorry for not taking any more pics, but we were rather busy with Samhith’s classes, and had no time for more…….
Meanwhile, today is Annamalai Deepam, the main day of the festival, where a huge lamp is lit on the Arunachala hill at Thiruvannamalai. We shall wait for the live coverage of the lamp being lit (on Podhigai TV) and then light our own lamps, hoping that someday, we shall be able to see the light directly rather than on TV.
There are quite a few videos of the Deepam on You-Tube, but I found an interesting blog, Living in the embrace of Arunachala , where the author, Richard Clarke, who lives with his wife in the holy town gives a day-by-day account of the festival. The narrative is interesting as well as a visual treat….. Do check it out….