Karthigai…Festival of Lamps

Karthigai Deepam  festival is celebrated mainly in Tamil Nadu, on Poornima ( full moon day) of the tamizh month Karthigai (mid-November to mid-December) as per Tamil calendar.

Lord Shiva appeared as an endless flame of light before Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, who each considered himself supreme and said that the matter could be tested if the two could search for Lord Shiva’s Head and feet. Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar(Sanskrit:Varaha, Tamil:Varahan) and delved deep into the earth, Lord Brahma that of a swan(Sanskrit:Hamsa, Tamil:Annam) and flew towards the skies. Lord Vishnu failed in his search and returned. But Lord Brahma, chancing upon a piece of Thazhambu, a flower, learnt from it that it had been floating down for thirty thousand years from Lord Shiva’s head. He seized upon this and claimed to Lord Shiva that he had seen the other’s top. Lord Siva realized the falsehood and pronounced that there would never be a temple for Lord

kaarthigai deepam

Brahma in this world. He also interdicted the use of the flower Thazhambu in his worship. Lord Shiva appeared as a flame, this day is called Maha Deepam.

Karthigai Deepam and Thiruvanamalai
Celebrations of Karthigai festival is extremely famous in Tiruvannamalai hills. It is celebrated as a ten day festival and is refereed to as Karthigai Brahmotsavam.
Karthigai 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. Arunachaleswarar is said to be visually represented in the form of agni on the hill top. There is a very mammoth gathering on this day at the Arunachaleswarar temple to witness this glorious and sacred event. The night ceremony starts with Lord Periya nayagar going out procession on the Rishaba vahanam that is made of gold. Theppal – Lord Chandrasekarar, Lord Parasakthi,Lord Subramaniar goes in the boat and this is called Theppam, since it carried out in the tank. Lord Arunachaleswarar goes procession round the hill, known as Girivalam or pradhiksahana. With this ceremony the Karthigai Deepam festival at Arunachaleswarar temple comes to a grand conclusion with the devotees taking back home some divine blessings and memories from this ancient holy city Tiruvannamalai.

Karthigai Deepam

Since this is a festival of light, the whole house is decorated with the oil lamps called as “Agal Vizhakku”. These lamps are considered as an auspicious symbol wherein lighting them depicts warding off darkness (in essence: evil and dark forces) with light (representing joy, goodness and prosperity). The whole Karthigai month is considered auspicious and lamps are lit throughout the month and Kolams (rangoli) are drawn in front of the houses.


Lord Shiva appeared as a hill (Arunachala Hill) at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. `Tiruvannamalai’ and `Arunachala’ translate as `holy fire hill.’ The Shivalinga in the temple here is the agni linga. The tiny lamps lit during the Karthigai festival (Karthigai Deepam) are believed to be the miniature lingas.Lamps are lit in the houses to pray His “Jyothi Swarupam”.

First day of this festival is called as “Appakarthigai” and the second day is called as “vadai karthigai”. Pori,adhirasam,vella Seedai, vetrilai pakku,fruits are offered as neivedhyam for God Shiva.

In down South of Tamilnadu it is a custom  for ladies to pray for the welfare of their brothers and they will light a elephant lamp(Gajalakshmi Vilaku) which marks as a sign of prosperity and wealth.

Why we light Elephant lamp on Karthigai ?
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 Milagu Adai, Pori,Adhirasam,Vella Seedai and keep them as neivedhyam for this festival.





Pori Urundai recipe


·    4  cups Nel  Pori ( paddy flakes )
·    1 cup Jaggery powdered
·    ½ cup roasted gram dal/pottukadalai
·    ½ cup small pieces of coconut
·    ½ tsp cardamom powder
·    Pinch of dry ginger powder

Testing for the consistency.


This thick drop whe n settles in cold water will firm up to form a small ball.

Time to quickly mix the pori with the syrup , first with a wooden or a steel spatula and then start making small clumps , keep them aside. like the pic showws below, at this stage dnt attempt to form a firm ball as it will be verybhot and very sticky.

When the clumps of sticky pori is somewhat cooled, you can start firming up the pori into tight balls.



Sieve the Pori  put  the
cleaned Pori in a large bowl, add pottukadalai and mix well.

Dry roast the coconut pieces slightly and keep
In a
heavy pan melt the jaggery with ½ cup water, and make a thick syrup.Test
the consistency by dropping the syrup in a bowl of cold water, it should stay
firm and you should be able to form a ball, and when flung on the plate , it
will fall with a thud!That is the correct consistency. Now add cardamom
powder, dry ginger powder and fried coconut pieces and  mix everything well and quickly.
Next remove from stove and add the Pori and mix it
thoroughly using a spatula..
When it has slightly warmed and easy to hold in
palms, first make small lumps of the sticky pori and set aside separately as
shown in the pic, then apply some loose rice flour on the palms end now begin to firmly roll the pori into balls.It will be possible now as we have set
aside the sticky pori into small manageable lumps.You can grease the palms
with either ghee or oil too but rice flour works better..
Even if you are not able to make the balls, just
leave them loose as sweet pori and actually this is called Karthigai pori.
Same method for both types of pori urundai.


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