29 November 2008

2008 Karthigai Deepam – South India

Karthigai Deeepam, or Karthika Deepam, is the festival of lights in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Tamil Nadu, it is observed on the full moon day in the month of Karthigai (November-December). In Kerala, the festival is known as Trikartika or Kartika Vilaku and is held in the month of Vrichikam (November – December).

This year December 11th is the day for the lighting of traditional oil lamps at dusk (approximately 6.05 p.m.). Karthigai Deeepam is also known as Bharani Deepam and Vishnu Deepam in Tamil Nadu and is an auspicious day for both Shaivites and Vaishanvites. Click here to read more

The Festival of Light -- Arunachala

“Deepam is a Hindu religious festival which merges myth and sacred time with the ordinary temporal flow since the distinction between myth and reality’ does not exist in India where even the passage of time is illusory.

The sacred mountain Arunachala was worshipped long before the Vedic culture penetrated into the southern Indian peninsular millennia ago. In the south Lord Siva became the notion of significance and Arunachala became the embodiment of Lord Siva. Kailash Mountain of Tibet is his abode where he meditates, but Arunachala Mountain is Siva Himself.

It was in comparatively recent history that the Vedic Divine personalities evolved on the subcontinent; they up-staged the primeval pantheon of elemental divinities worshipped since time before mind: Fire, Water, Space, Air, Earth. Sacred places associated with these most ancient divinities lie in the South. Arunachala is The Fire Place.

However it is not Fire that is of primary significance but Light: an invisible column of light signifying the Enlightenment that those embodied in human form have the capacity to realize. Realisation confers freedom from the bondage of identity with form, both physical and mental. The light of the Deepam flame reminds us of this. Deepam means Light.

The original myth is that aeons ago the gods Brahma and Vishnu challenged one another, each claimed to be able to reach the end of the universe. Lord Brahma (the Creator) headed up in the form of a swan, and Lord Vishnu (the Preserver) headed down as a Boar. Neither was successful in their task. Lord Siva (the Destroyer of Ignorance) pronounced the justice of this situation: that no embodied being has precedence over any other; that only what is prior to consciousness is real. What is real is quality-less. It is eternal, unequivocal throughout all dimensions of all worlds. Lord Siva showed himself as this eternal principal in the form of an endless column of Light invisible to mortal eyes. He named it Arunachala. This was given visible form as a Mountain, an icon for what is beyond form, fondly referred to by locals as ‘the Holy Hillock’.”

[Apeetha Arunagiri]

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