Karthika Deepam, Thrikarthika or Karthikai Vilakkidu is a festival of lights that is observed by Hindus of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Sri Lanka It falls in the month of Karttikai (mid-November to mid-December) as per the Tamil calendar. The full moon day of this Karthigai month is called Karthigai pournami. In Kerala, this festival is known as Thrikkarthika, which celebrates to welcome of Goddess Karthiyayeni (Chottanikkara Amma) Bhagavathi. In the rest of India, a related festival called Kartik Purnima is celebrated on a different date. It is celebrated in the name of 'Lakshabba' in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. The name of the festival was born from the name of the god Kartikeya. In the Tamil calendar, the name of this month is called Karttikai.

Many legends and lyrical poetry have grown around this star. The six stars are considered in Indian mythology as the six celestial nymphs who reared the six babies in the Saravana tank which later were joined together to form the six faced Muruga. They are Dula, Nitatni, Abhrayanti, Varshayanti, Meghayanti, and Chipunika. He is therefore called Karthikeya, the incarnation of Lord Shiva as his second son after lord Ganesha. It is believed that Lord Shiva created Muruga from his 3rd eye of six primary faces (Tatpurusam, Aghoram, Sadyojatam, Vamadevam, Eesanam, Adhomukam). It is believed that the six forms made into six children and each of them brought up by the six Karthigai nymphs (Siva, Sambhuti, Priti, Sannati, Anasuya, and K?ama) and later merged into one by his mother Parvati.

While merging he also formed into a six-faced (Arumugam and twelve-handed gods. The Lord Murugan is also portrayed with his six plays and worshiped with six names.

As the six nymphs helped in growing the child, Lord Shiva blessed immortality to the six nymphs as ever living stars on the sky. Any worship performed to these six stars is equal to worshiping Lord Muruga himself. They are worshiped by lighting up rows of oil lamps (Deepam) in the evening of the festival day around the houses and streets. Karthikai Deepam is also known as Kartikeya or Muruga's birthday.


Rows of Agal Diya (Clay Oil lamps) are lit in every house. Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol. It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy. While the lighted lamp is important for all Hindu rituals and festivals, it is indispensable for Karthigai. This festival is also celebrated to commemorate the bonding between brothers and sisters in south India(analogous to Bhaiya-Dhuj and Raakhi). Sisters pray for the prosperity and success of their brothers and light lamps to mark the occasion.

In Telugu households, Kaartheeka maasam (month) is considered very auspicious. The Kartheeka month starts on the day of Deepawali. From that day till the end of the month, oil lamps are lit every day. On Kartheeka Pournami (full moon of Kartheeka month) oil lamps with 365 wicks, prepared at home, are lit in Lord Shiva temples. Apart from that, Kaartheeka Puranam is read and fasting is observed till sunset, every day for the whole month.

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