Karthigai maasam and Marghazhi maasam are two of my favourite thamizh months. Both are in the winter season.
Both the months are of special importance to Tamilians. This month we celebrate a festival very unique to tamilians called karthigai deepam festival. This festival is more than 3000 years old , older than diwali and navarathri. On this day many agal villakkus( lamps made of clay called diya) are lit outside the house in rows. ( tamilians don’t light diyas during diwali). We make many sweets with jaggery and arisi pori ( puffed rice) called arisi pori urandai, vella appam made with rice flour and jaggery , uppu appam made with rice powder, chillies,coconut scrapings. I too prepared all this delicacies today and shreya helped me light the agal vilakkus.
Today one could have counted the number of tamilians in my 300 houses society. It was a visual delight to see the vilakkus.
Well,now to the festival. The month Karthigai derives its name from the star Krithigai. Lord shiva created lord muruga with his divine light in this month.On the full moon day of karthigai month A big deepam is lit atop the Annnmalai hills at Tiruvanna malai.
"Skanda Puranam" sings the glory of the holy place through the words of sages Suta and Gautama, and Nandikeswara, the bull-mount of Lord Siva. It is said a dispute arose between Brahma, the creator and Vishnu, the protector, as to who is superior of the two.
Siva appeared before them as a column of fire, which enveloped the entire universe and a voice from the sky said, "Whoever will be able to see the beginning or the end of the light is the superior one." Vishnu took the form of a boar and went farther and farther down into the Earth to find the base of the light but He realised the futility of His quest. But Brahma who took the form of a swan flew high and when He could not find the head, he sought the help of a flower (thazhampoo) coming down from Siva's head, to tell the world that he was successful in his effort.
So Siva cursed Brahma that he will have no temple for him on the Earth and said that no one should offer thazhampoo during Siva puja since he lied. Celestials prayed to Lord Siva to control the raging fire, as they could not bear its heat. Heeding their plea Siva manifested Himself as Arunachaleswara. The celestials declared that whoever went around Arunachala hills with reverence would be blessed by the Lord in every way.
According to another legend, Goddess Parvati once playfully closed Siva's eyes and the entire world was plunged in darkness. Hence She did penance at Kasi , Kanchi and Thiruvannamalai. The Lord, pleased with Her penance, appeared before Her on Karthigai day in the month of Karthigai. To mark the occasion, Karthigai Deepam is lighted on that day. She prayed to the Lord that the people who worship Him as Arunachaleswara should be forgiven for their mistakes, committed knowingly or unknowingly.
To mark the event a big copper vessel is kept atop the hill in which tonnes of camphor, ghee and fresh cloth are placed and lighted. The light is visible from a distance of 20 km. Known as Bhookailayam, the Tiruvannamalai hills are home for numerous temples and ashrams including those of Ramana Maharshi, and Seshadri Swamigal, and Guhai Namasivayar Temple and Skandashramam.
There are as many as 360 holy water sources in the hills, the most important among them being Brahma Theertham and Sivagangai Theertham in the temple, and Agni and Indra Theerthams on the hills.
The Thiruvannamalai temple is one of the biggest in Tamil Nadu and its compound wall runs to a length of 1,320 metres.
Having said this much about tiruvannamalai, wait for my blog on Ramana Maharishi who also happens to be my relative.
source on karthigai. The hindu.