Today is the holy day of Karthika Pournami. Karthika Masam is the name of the current Lunar month and today is Pournami that is Full Moon Day and hence the day is called Karthika Pournami. Today is also called as Karthika Punnami and Karthika Poornima / Purnima. It is a holy celebration to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. It is the day on which Lord Shiva killed Tripurasura a demon king and protected the world. With boons from Lord Ganesha, Tripurasura became indestructible, grew into an evil force and defeated all the kings of Earth and the Gods in Heaven. According to Lord Ganesha’s boon, Tripurasura could be killed only by Lord Shiva. After witnessing the evil deeds and destruction unleashed by Triupurasura, Lord Ganesha approached Tripurasura in the guise of a Brahmin with a plan to eliminate him. The Brahmin displayed 64 arts to the demon king, and pleased with the Brahmin; Tripurasura offered to grant him any wish he made. The Brahmin asked for the Idol of Chinthamani which is with Lord Shiva. As Lord Shiva refused to part with the Idol, a war took place between Lord Shiva and Tripurasura. The Chariot that Lord Shiva rode in this war is described as Prithvi (Earth) with the Sun and Moon as its wheels and the bow as Meru (the huge mountain) and Lord Vishnu as the arrow. This single arrow from Lord Shiva destroyed all the materialistic boons that Lord Ganesha had offered to Tripurasura in the form of palaces and vimanams (planes). The speed and force of the arrow caused heavy lightening which made Tripurasura faint and ultimately brought about his end.
People in very large numbers bathe in the holy rivers of the country today. They visit Temples and offer prayers. ‘Abhishekam’ is performed to Lord Shiva. As such, Karthika Masam that is the entire month of Karthikam is considered very auspicious. During this entire month and specially today oil lamps are lit at Temples, at holy rivers and houses with hundreds of wicks, sometimes thousands of wicks (‘Karthika Deepa-aradhana’) and in modern days 365 wicks to represent the days of the year. Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi along with all the Gods are said to visit and reside under Amla that is Usiri or Gooseberry trees by the side of Tulisi plants that is Basil plants, in this month. Hence a lot of prominence is given to these plants, prayers are offered to the plants on this day and in this month, and picnics are organized outdoors, preferably under Amla trees. These rituals are called Vana Mahotsavam or Vanabhojanalu. All these actions are considered very beneficial, they are said to liberate us from all sins and bless us with good health, wealth, prosperity, success, longevity and fulfillment of all wishes.
The above photographs are of Karthika Pournami festivities at Sri Ramalingeshwara Swamy Temple, at Keesara Gutta (Keesara hillock), Keesara Village, 30 Kms. from our house in Secunderabad.
You may click on the following links to read articles I wrote earlier on Karthika Masam: