Karthika Pournami Festival Story And Its Significance
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The full moon day of the Karthika Month of the lunar calendar is one of the most auspicious days for a Hindu. Karthika Month is the only month in which both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are worshipped. Karthika Pouranmi or Karthika Purnima is also one of the days when the temples of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are full with the devotees wanting a darshan of their deities.
The other names of Karthika Pournami are Deva Deepawali or Deva Diwali, Tripuri Purnima or Tripurari Purnima.
Kathika Purnima is also clebrated as the day on which Lord Vishnu incarnated as Matsya or Matsyavatram happened on Karthika Purnima. Matsyavatara was to save Manu from the MahaPralaya.
Dev Deepawali or Deva Deepavali
Dev Deepawali is celebrated in Varanasi and other northern parts of India. It is believed that Lord Shiva killed Tripurasura on Karthika Purnima and hence Gods celebrated by lighting diyas. In Varansi all the Ghats are lighted with diyas. It is a visual delight. Not only the Ghats but almost all the houses in Varanasi also decorated with diyas.
Lord Shiva killed the demon Tripurasura on Karthika Purnima and hence the name Tripura Purnima or Tipurari Purnima.
Karthika Purniam is also associated with Prabodini Ekadasi. Prabodini Ekadasi marks the end of the four month long Chaturmas Vrat. A lot of fairs and festivities which begin on Prabodini Ekadasi end on Karthika Purnima.
Legend Behind Karthika Pournami-Kathika Purnima:
One of the great sacred texts, Mahabharata demonstrates the story behind the holiness of Karthik purnima. According to that, demon Taraka was killed by Kartikeya (Lord Shiva’s son). Tarakasura’s three sons – Taraksha, Kamalaksha and Vidyunmali. Usually demons are very intelligent and strong but they misuse their knowledge and powers.
These three demons performed a severe penance for Brahma and got a boon that they would live for thousand years in three strong, moving cities called as Tripuri and they could only be destructed by an arrow which makes the cities into one and sets them to fire.
After the end of thousand years of the negative rule of the three demons, the Gods went to Lord Shiva and prayed to him to demolish the asuras. Lord Shiva performed ‘Rudra Tandava’ (Dance of Lord Shiva which is like an earthquake and also known as ‘Dance of Destruction’). ‘Rudra Tandava’ rocked the three cities – ‘Tripuri’. Lord Shiva’s arrow pierce through the three asuras at a time and the fire from his third eye burnt ‘Tripuri’.
As a commemoration of the demolition of the demons which occured on the Full Moon day, the event is celebrated as Karthik Purnima or Tripuri Poornima. Kartik pournami is also called as Dev Diwali as it is a brighter day for the Gods who fought against the demons to destroy the evil powers of them.
Rituals on Karthika Pournami-Kathika Purnima
Nadi Snanam or River Bath
The common rituals of Karthika Purnima are having a river bath and praying to Lord Shiva and observing a fast for the whole day. Devotees would prefer to have a bath in the holy rivers as it is believed that by simply performing the Nadi Snan or river bath in the Karthika Month one gets a lot of virtue and if it is on Karthika Purnima the virtue is multi folded.
If a devotee is able to perform the Tripura Purnima Snan, the bath that is performed in Varanasi in the holy river Ganga it is believed that the virtue of the bath would bring Salvation. All the steps in the Ghats of the river Ganga in Varanasi are lit with diyas.
Lighting of Lamps in Temple or Near Tulasi
Devotees would visit the temple of Lord Shiva and lit lamps. A pack of 365 wicks is usually lit. Each wick is for each day of the year.
Some devotees would light a wick on the floats made from the stems of the Banana Tree and set it afloat on the river.
Few devotees would also give Deepa Danam or donate a lit diya.
Devotees also would lit the diya infront of Tulasi plant, where the idols of Radha and Krishna are kept.
Performing of SatyaNarayana Vratam
One of the most auspicious days for performing the Satya Narayana Swamy Vrat is Karthika Purnima. Karthika Purnima is one of the favorite days of Lord Vishnu.Hence devotees would prefer and try their level best to perform the SatyaNarayana Vrat on Karthika Purnima. The virtue of performing the SatyaNarayana Vrat on Karthika Purnima is multi folded when compared to performing the same on other days.
Performing of Ekadasi Rudra Abhishekam
Almost all the temples of Lord Shiva would perform the Ekadasi Rudra Abhishekam on Karhika Purnima. It is bathing Lord Shiva by chanting the Rudra Chamakam and Rudra Namakam Eleven times. Before performing the Ekadasa Rudra Abhishekam the body has to be cleansed by reciting the Mahanyasam.It is believed that by performing the Ekadasi Rudra Abhishekam on Karthika Purnima one would get free of all the sins and would get salvation.
Other festivals on Karthika Pournami or Kartik Purnima
Karthika Purnima is also the birth day of Sri Guru Nanak and is celebrated with great devotion by Sikhs.
Even for Jains Karthika Purnima is a big festival and is celebrated with great devotion.
Karthika Pournami-Kathika Purnima Fasting and Celebrations:
- This is special for the women folk, in particular the married women who observe fasting on this day during the day time and perform daily pooja as usual. Some of the elderly women keep themselves engaged in various religious activities like listening to Kartika Puranam, reciting / chanting religious hymns, singing bhajans, reading religious scriptures or going to the nearby temples to spend some time in the positive atmosphere which helps in developing positive thoughts in the mind. After fasting for the whole day, in the evening before sunset, the women folk start their preparations for the Kartika Deepaaradhana.
- In some regions women / married women, light up rows of oil lit earthen lamps round the Tulasi Kota / the potted Holy Basil plant. There is a specified number of lamps to be arranged in rows which differs depending on one’s family custom. Most of the married women bundle up 365 cotton wicks and place the bundle in a big size earthen lamp, wet these with pure cow’s ghee / melted butter and then lit the bundle of 365 wicks-Vattulu. This signifies the lighting of lamps for the whole year / each day of the year.
- Some women light the oil lamps in the cup shape skin of lemons or in the cup shape shells of coconut (narikela deepam) as per their vow or tradition of the family.
- Yet in other regions, married women go to the near by water sources like lakes / rivers / ponds / temple tanks (pushkarini), release Kartika Deepams placed in boat shaped cut stem of the plantain tree and let these deepams float in the water either early in the morning on this auspicious day or in the evening after sunset. It gives a beautiful looking when the entire area gets illuminated with lamps and float lamps.
- While in some other regions of India, people place these lamps in small baskets specially meant for the purpose and release these in the air which move up like the hot air balloons. These are called the Akasa Deepam which give a wonderful appearance when these float in the air in good numbers like small hot air balloons.
- The culture of lighting oil lamps ends with the Kartika Pournami celebrations. In addition to this lighting of lamps, people in particular children burn the left over crackers on this day. The night is celebrated like a Chota Diwali
- The women folk who observe fasting on this day, light up oil lamps after the sunset and moon rise. The full moon glows bright and looks really beautiful on this special day. After all the formalities are completed in the evening, the women who observe fasting, break it by eating a specially prepared sweet (naivedyam) called Chalimidi which is prepared of rice flour and sugar syrup.