Karthigai, where light prevails over darkness.

The next three days starting today going to be a meaningful one for fellow Hindus. There will be celebration and special prayers in all the remaining temples in country. No.. No.. No! Don't get me wrong. I am not talking about the upcoming Hindraf Rally scheduled tomorrow. I am talking about the Karthigai Deepam festival which is celebrated by Hindus all around the world with great fervour in the tamil month of Karthigai (November - December). For my non-Hindu friends, Karthigai Deepam (read=light) is essentially a festival of Lamps.

It can be considered as an extension of Deepavali and don't be surprise when I tell you that it is also one of the oldest Hindu festival perhaps before Deepavali itself, as Karthigai Deepam has been mentioned and referred to in many ancient works of Tamil literature that dates back to 2,000 or 2,500 BC. It falls in the month of Karthigai when the star Krithigai is on the ascendant according to the Tamil Calendar on a full moon day. It is believed that Lord Muruga, the divine light of Lord Shiva, took his form during this month and this year, the festival of Karthigai is going to be a bit more special (again, nothing to do with Hindraf Rally). For the year of 2007, the Karthigai Deepam and Pournami (read=full moon), fall on the same day, as well as the day when Lord Muruga took his avatara on Earth. The Karthigai is of great importance to Lord Muruga as He symblolizes light, knowledge and beauty. In fact Lord Muruga has another name, Karthigeyan - which denotes the Karthigai festival.

No Hindu Festival is complete without a lighted lamp, but for Karthigai Deepam it is indispensable.The moment you think of Karthigai Deepam, you get a mental picture of a row of agal vilakkus - those little earthen lamp containig ghee or oil to fuel up the energy at the whick, which gives you a bright and steady glow to the lights. The lamps are so arranged near the doors and windows and in the balconies that they give you a warm welcome during the chilly evening of Karthigai. I still remember my good old days where me and my siblings will arrange the oil lamps on the wooden fence and at the entrance of the house for three continueous days. The number of Karthigai lamps arranged will be usually an odd one such as nine or eleven.

This lighted lamp is considered as an auspicious symbol and it is believed to ward off evil forces and bring forth prosperity and joy. By lighting these lamps, you annihilate the three impurities of egoism, selfishness and delusion, burn away from the mind the thoughts of senses and the desires in the fire of Knowledge of the Self. Beholding the light of lights, you illumine your mind, intellect, the sun, the moon, the stars, the lightning and ultimately the fire. This is real Kartigai Deepam.

Wish all the Hindus a Happy Karthigai. May light prevails over darkness. Wherever you are, stay safe, take care well and have a great weekend ahead. God bless!

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