The Festival of Karthigai Deepam from a Traditional Tamil Nadu Village - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Friday, April 14, 2023

The Festival of Karthigai Deepam from a Traditional Tamil Nadu Village

The festival of Karthigai Deepam at Kallidaikurichi village, Tamil Nadu

Most of us Indians associate only the festival of Deepavali with the festival of lights, but there is another traditional Indian festival that is also the festival of lights. This festival is called Karthika Deepam, an ancient Tamil festival that is celebrated on the Poornima (full moon) night of the Karthik month. It is also called Karthik Poornima in our country. It is mainly celebrated by the people of South India, but also celebrated in Sri Lanka, South East Asia and China. In Thailand, it goes by the name of Loi Krathong in Thailand, ‘Tazaungdaing festival’ in Myanmar, Full moon poya in Sri Lanka, Lantern festival in China and Bon Om Touk in Laos.

Rural Tamil Nadu celebrates Karthigai Deepam Festival

One of the earliest references to the festival is found in the Akananuru, a book of poems that dates back to the Sangam period (200 BCE to 300 CE). Karthika Deepam is dedicated to Lord Karthikeya (Murugan) and Lord Shiva according to two different legends. On this day, one can find all Murugan and Shiva temples to be jampacked with devotees. The most iconic scenes can be seen at the Arunachaleswarar temple at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.

Most Indians hardly know about this festival. In Indian cities, you can see a very small number of homes lighting lamps on this day, but that is not the case in this traditional Tamil Nadu village where I saw this festival being celebrated with full vigour, pomp and fervour. The whole village was illuminated with lamps, lights and crackers.
Decked up traditional lamps on Karthigai Deepam festival at Kallidaikurichi     
Festival action begins a couple of days before the actual festival. People clean their homes, bring out all their brass and silver lamps from the lockers and clean them till they shine. On the evening of Karthigai deepam, the whole village washes the front of their houses, decorate with kolam (rangoli) either with rice powder, colours or both. They then keep the lamps on top of this rangoli facing east. Each lamp is decorated with vermilion, sandalwood and flowers.     
Traditional lamps and rangoli on the night of Karthigai Deepam at Kallidaikurichi     
Just before sunset, the ladies of each house, come out of their homes decked in traditional attire. They then light the lamps after doing pooja and mangalarti. By now, dusk has started setting in and the lamps in front of each house shine brighter. You can hear all kinds of slogams and hymns either sung by the people or played in their electronic devices at their homes.
Locals ready their traditional lamps for the Karthigai Deepam festival at Kallidaikurichi, Tamil Nadu     
Once darkness sets in, people start bursting crackers, lighting sparklers and burning chakris. For a moment, you feel it is the festival of Deepavali all over again. While the lamps are burning bright, the whole village is sitting in front of their homes, wishing everyone a happy karthikai deepam and enjoying neighbouring gossip.    
Traditional lamps glow brightly on the night of Karthigai Deepam festival

As the oil in the lamps start running out, the villagers start chanting hymns and slowly extinguish the flame in the lamps. By half past seven, all the lamps have gone back inside into the house and the festive atmosphere of the evening seems to have disappeared. This is when all the villagers happen to visit the nearby Shiva, Murugan and Perumal temples to seek the blessings of the lord.

Karthigai Deepam Festival at Sannadhi Street, Kallidaikurichi     

This evening ritual repeats itself every evening starting just before sunset for the next seven days. This is how the village of Kallidaikurichi, a traditional Brahmin agraharam celebrates the festival of Karthikai Deepam in the deep south of Tamil Nadu in India. Everything about the celebration is a joy to watch and offers a good insight into your rich ancient culture.

Lamps adorn Sannadhi Street on Karthigai Deepam at Kallidaikurichi

Have you experienced such rich celebrations of the Karthikai Deepam festival anywhere in India? Have you experienced our traditional Indian festivals in rural India? If so, do share your experiences in the comments below.

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