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Kaarthigai Deepam -cosmological, Cultural & religious significance

Kaarthigai Deepam -cosmological, Cultural & religious significance

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Published by Jayasree Saranathan
This is a 3 part article on the cosmological and cultural connection to the Lamp festival celebrated in Tamilnadu in the month of Kaarthigai.
This is a 3 part article on the cosmological and cultural connection to the Lamp festival celebrated in Tamilnadu in the month of Kaarthigai.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Jayasree Saranathan on Oct 30, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Kaarthigai deepam- cosmological and cultural significance.Written by Jayasree Saranathan, India.
The solar month of Kaarthigai (Scorpio) is known for lighting lamps in Tamilnadu.Lighting lamps during twilight hours on all days of the solar month of Kaarthigaiis an age-old practice.The special occasion is thefull moonday in Kaarthigaiwhen all houses and temples will be decorated with oil lamps after sunset.This festival is an important one for both shivites and vaishanvites andis variously known asBharani deepam, Kaarthigai deepam and Vishnu deepam. This is considered solely as aTamil festival,as it is not celebrated in other parts of India.This write-up analyses the various aspects of this festival – 
cosmological, historical and Vedic.First of all, let me make a clarification on thedifferencebetweenlighting lamps on Deepavali (as it is done in most of India barring Tamilnadu)and lighting lamps on Kaarthigai pournami.The obvious difference is that Deepavali coincides with New / no moon daywhereas Kaarthigai deepam coincides with Full moon day.The intricate difference is that, lighting lamps on Deepavaliis to celebrate a historical event of the death of Narakasurawhile that of the Kaarthigai is a kind of worship on a cosmically important day.According to the astrological text,Kalaprakasika,kaarthgai deepam is celebrated on the Full moon day of the solar month of kaarthgai.The Full moon is the fundamental signifactor.The star krittikamay or may not be present.But the deepam must be lighted on the Full moon.If the full moon continues in the next evening, the deepam must be lit then.Even if there is a lunar eclipse, the deepam must be lit.This festival ensures prosperity and good rains to the country, according to this text.The lighting time must coincide with sun set or just before sunset or attwilight.The twilight is defined as the time when sun will be within 18 degrees below the horizon.
It takes 4 minutes to cross a degree.That means twilight stretches for 1 hour and 12 minutes after sunset.It is within this time the Kaarthigai deepam is lit.The details of how this festival is to be celebratedis given in this link from Kalaprakasika.http://books.google.co.in/books?id=e_8MaBfTncgC&pg=PP7&lpg=PP7&dq=kalaprakasika+translation&source=web&ots=7096Yp5mnG&sig=_pN0EIEn38u-y2pjz277r4gtheM&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA240,M1
Why the month Kaarthigai?
Lighting lamps is an everyday practice as a part of worship.But why this month of Kaarthigai has been specifically chosen is a question.If we look into the details connected with this month,we will know the cosmological and historical significance of this month.This month lies opposite toVaikasiwhen the summer is at its peak in the northernhemisphere.Kaarthigaiis the time of peak summer in the southern hemisphere.What we call asAgni nakshathra daysin the Northis experienced in the south during this month.(for details browse the following link)http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.com/2008/05/some-thoughts-on-agni-nakshathra.html

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