20 November 2007

Karthigai in Tamil Literature

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.

In ancient Tamil literature, the oldest available work Tolkappiyam gives in concise verse form rules for Tamil grammar as well as other topics. Scholars agree that this work dates back to 2000 or 2500 BC. In one of the formulae Tolkapiyar in his treatise uses the phrase "like the lamp’s flame pointing upwards." In another epic Jeevakachintamani written by a Jain poet, Thiruthakka Thevar, the poet describes how people celebrated the Karthigai Deepam festival.

In Karnarpadu, the poet in one of the stanzas, describes how in the Tamil month of Karthigai during the time of the Krittika star, the lamps lit by people blossomed on earth, bringing rain in its wake. In another Tamil work, the Kalavazhi Narpadu dating back to the third Sangam period (after 1000 B.C) the poet says, "In the battle the blood oozing out from the dead soldiers´ bodies is like the red coloured flame of the lamps lit during Karthigai Deepam festival".

In another Sangam work, Pazhamozhi, in stanzas ending in proverbs, one stanza ends with this phrase, "like the beacon on the Hill." In Sambandar´s Tevaram, while trying to raise a young girl Poompavai from the dead, he asks with deep feeling, "O Poompavai, have you gone without seeing the ancient Karthigai festival?" Another song in Tevaram says that the Lord is verily the Deepam (lit during the Karthigai festival).

There is a work on Karthigai Deepam consisting of a hundred stanzas, praising the festival. When Muruganar asked Bhagavan Ramana about the significance of the Karthigai Deepam festival, Bhagavan composed a stanza of four lines in which he says, "The true significance of the Karthigai Deepam festival is that it turns the intellect inwards and having fixed it in the Heart merges it with the indweller of the Heart".

[By Rajaniyer]

1 comment:

Suba said...

It was very nice to know about karthikai festival