Thirukarthigai or Karthigai deepam is the festival celebrated on the full moon day of the tamil month Karthigai(mid-nov–mid-dec). From the very first day of the Karthigai month, two lamps made out of clay are lit in front of the house. And the main festival starts with Bharani deepam followed by Karthigai deepam and then the kuppa Karthigai. On these days the house is decorated with lamps and the pooja is offered to the God. This festival is celebrated by the sisters for the goodness of their brothers. On this day, appam, pori and Karthigai adai is made at home and is offered to the God. Brothers in turn send gifts to their sisters. This festival is significantly celebrated in Arunachaleshwarar temple in Thiruvannamalai. It is celebrated for ten days and is called as Karthigai Brahmotsavam. It begins with the hosting of the flag signifying the commencement of the festival also known as Dwajaroghanam. On the tenth day, Deepam festival starts at around four o clock in the early hours and the Bharani Deepam is lit at the temple. In the evening the Mahadeepam is lit on the top of the hill at around six o clock. This is a very important ceremony during the Karthigai Deepam festival at Tiruvannamalai. Arunachaleswarar is said to be visually represented in the form of agni on the hill top. People light the lamps in their house after the deepam is lit in the Arunachaleshwarar temple.
Story behind Karthigai Deepam
The earliest Hindu scripture states that the two great deities of Hindu culture Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma started fighting among them regarding the superiority. They both thought each one was stronger than the other. To stop this huge fight, Lord Shiva came in front of them and tried to show his supremacy. He took the shape of a huge fire and challenged the two fighting Gods to find the end of the fire from the top and bottom. Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar and tried to reach the end of the fire beneath the earth. He failed miserably and came back to Lord Shiva saying that he was unable to find the end of the fire from the bottom. Lord Brahma on the other hand, took the shape of a swan and flew to find the beginning of the fire on the topside. But his search was also in vain and he was unable to find the top of the fire. Thus, Lord Shiva proved his supremacy over the two Gods and managed to stop the fight. He then appeared like hill shape on Thiruvannamalai region. In fact, the names Tiruvannamalai’ and `Arunachala’ denote “holy fire hill”. In order to remember this every year this festival is celebrated in a grand manner in Thiruvannamalai.
Story behind lighting Elephant Lamp
Once upon a time there lived a King and he had only one daughter. She loved an elephant which grew with her and she considered the elephant as her own brother. After her marriage she missed her brother elephant very much. So for every Thirukarthigai/Karthigai deepam occasion, she will light elephant lamp(Gajalakshmi vilaku) and she will prepare tender coconut, elephant leg size Milagu Adai, Pori, Adhirasam and keep them as neivedhyam for this festival. So Hindus will pray god for goodness of their brothers and they will light a elephant lamp(Gajalakshmi Vilaku) which marks as a sign of prosperity and wealth.