Karthigai Deepam Festival

Karthigai Deepam Festival

Karthigai Deepam Festival is one of the oldest and most traditional festivals observed across South India. This festival of lights is also known by the name Karthikai Vilakkidu or Thrikarthika.

The festival falls in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November-December) when the Moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai (Pleiades) and Pournami.

History behind the Kathigai Deepam Festival

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma once argued amongst themselves about who was supreme, ignoring their duties. On seeing this, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of fire and told them that whoever it is that finds the top or bottom of the fire is the greatest. While Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar (Varaha) and delved into the earth to find the bottom of flame, Lord Brahma took the form of a swan (Annam) and flew up towards the skies. Both their efforts were in vain and when finally they gave up their ego, Lord Shiva appeared before them. The day on which Lord Shiva appeared as a pillar of fire is celebrated as Thirukarthigai/Karthigai Deepam.

Thrikarthika Celebrations

Karthigai Maha Deepam celebration is marked by rows of clay oil lamps (Agal Vilakku) lit in every house and across streets. The lightning of lamp is considered auspicious and is believed to greet joy and prosperity and avert all that is evil. Bursting of crackers also form a part of the celebration, which is now being restricted widely as a positive step towards environment protection.

More insights about the Thrikarthika Festival

  • It is interesting to know that the constellation that marks the day of Karthigai Deepam is a cluster of six stars appearing in a pendant shape.
    · Legend has it that the six stars represent the six celestial nymphs who gave birth to six babies. These babies were united together by Goddess Parvathi to form Lord Murugan, who was an incarnation of his father, Lord Shiva himself.
  • Karthigai Deepam is a festival religiously celebrated for 3 days – the first day called Appa Karthigai, second called Vadai Karthigai and third and last day is Thiru Karthigai. Earthen lamps are lit once the sun sets signifying the victory of good over evil.
  • Karthigai Deepam is celebrated in Lord Shiva Temple in Thiruvannamalai in a grand manner. A huge fire lamp (Mahadeepam) is lit up on the hill which is visible for several kilometres around the area.


The festival is a dazzling portrayal of Indian tradition and culture on the one hand, and celebration of sharing happiness and positivity on the other hand. Karthigai Deepam is equivalent to Diwali with all its beauty, bliss and warmth.