KARTHIGAI DEEPAM The festival of light in Tamil Nadu
Known as the “Festival of Lights,” Deepam is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu, and in other parts of southern India. This festival, would also be one of the oldest celebrated, perhaps even before people celebrate the Deepavali. Deepam is celebrated during the month of Karthigai (November-December), and lasts ten days.
The origins, a legend
The festival of Deepam takes its sources in the city of Tiruvannamalai, because it is in this city, become sacred, that would have appeared the god Shiva, in the form of column of fire. The story tells that the God Vishnu and the God Brahma quarreled to know which of the two was the most powerful. As they quarreled, the Lord Shiva appeared to them as a huge pillar of fire. To stop the quarrel, Lord Shiva wanted to teach them a lesson, challenging them to find both ends of this immense fire. Obviously, after years of research, the gods Vishnu and Brahma failed because a fire has no limit in itself, and because the pillar of fire was none other than God Shiva himself. So the God Shiva managed to stop this dispute and proved that it was useless to fight to know who had the greatest supremacy. Shortly after, the legend says that God Shiva appeared in the form of a mountain, named Arunachala, in the city of Tiruvannamalai. The name “Arunachala” means “mountain of sacred fire”.
This legend explains the importance of lighting lamps during this festival, because they represent the lingam of fire, that is to say Shiva. In addition, fire is considered a good sign, which will move the forces of evil away, and instead attract prosperity and joy. On the tenth day, a huge torch, the Mahadeepam, is lit at the top of Arunachala Mountain. According to legend, when Shiva manifested himself in the form of Arunachala, he declared: “Just as the moon draws its light from the sun, other holy places will have to draw their sacredness from Arunachala. It is the only place where I took this form for the benefit of those who want to adore me and obtain spiritual enlightenment. Arunachala is OM incarnate. I will appear on the top of this hill each year in Karthigai in the form of a torch symbol of peace. ”
A sacred mountain, a wise man
While Arunachala means “mountain of sacred fire”, but at the beginning of the 20th century, a sage called Sri Ramana Maharshi, offered another explanation of each syllable of this sacred name. He said that simply thinking of Arunachala’s name will grant liberation, because ‘A’, ‘ru’, and ‘na’ mean ‘sat’, ‘chit’, and ‘ananda’ (Being, Consciousness, Bliss) and ‘ achala ‘means’ perfection’. Thus, Arunachala is the mantra that grants ‘jnana’, the knowledge of the Supreme Self.