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Also known as the festival of lights, Karthigai Deepam is majorly observed by the Hindu community of Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, and Kerala. Falling in the month of Kartikkai according to the Tamil Calendar, Karthigai Festival is observed when our moon is in conjunction with the constellation of Karthigai (known as the Pleiades) and Pournami.

Particularly in Kerala, this festival, which is locally termed as Thrikkarthika, is celebrated mainly to honour Goddess Shakti. This year, Karthigai Festival 2020 will be held between November 29 to 30. Although it is observed in the aforementioned places, one of the major venues where the festival is held is Arunachalesvara Temple, also known as Annamalaiyar Temple.

History of Karthgai Deepam

There are multiple legends behind this festival and here are a couple of the most prominent ones.

Also Read: Also observed as Vesak Purnima, this festival celeberates the legacy of Lord Buddha

The Story of Six Stars

A look at the Hindu mythology will tell you that Karthigai Deepam has a mystical angle attached to it. Here we are talking about the story of six stars or the six celestial nymphs in the Indian mythology.

It is interesting to note that these nymphs bore six babies who were later joined with each other by Lord Shiva, forming a six-faced Muruga (Lord Kartikeya). The Lord did so with the mystical power of his third eye.

The six forms were then named as Dula, Nitatni, Abhrayanti, Varshayanti, Meghayanti, and Chipunika and were brought up by the six celestial nymphs.

And, as they helped each child in growing up, Lord Shiva blessed the nymphs with immortality. That is why worshipping them is considered equivalent to worshipping Lord Muruga himself.

For the ritual, people light up rows of oil lamps during the evening in their homes and streets which is celebrated as the Karthigai Festival.

The Legend of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma

According to another legend, it is believed that one day, the two most powerful Hindu deities Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma started fighting to prove to each other who was stronger than the other. And, it is said that to put an end to this fight, Lord Shiva had to intervene.

For this, he took the shape of a huge fire and then challenged both Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma to find the end of the fire from top to bottom. It is believed that then, Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar and Lord Brahma, of a swan to find the end of the fire. Both of them tried hard but couldn’t find the end and had to eventually give up.

Lord Shiva did this to prove to them that none, apart from him, was the Supreme God. After this, he appeared as a hill somewhere in the Thiruvannamalai region where, later on, the Kings built a temple, honouring Lord Shiva and since then this festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm among the locals.

Major Attractions of Karthigai Deepam

1. The Festival of Lamps. On the occasion of Karthigai Deepam, rows of Agal Vilakkus or clay oil lamps are lit in every home, as they are believed to ward off the evil forces. This ritual of lighting the lamps is important in almost every Hindu festival and is essential for this festival as well.

2. Maha Deepam. This festival is celebrated for three days - Appa Karthigai, Vadai Karthigai, and Thiru Karthigai. On the last day, worshippers flock in the local temples as well as in the Tiruvannamalai Temple to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva, as and when the main ritual of the puja is performed.

During the puja ceremony, the major attraction is the huge fire lamp which is known as Maha Deepam.

How to Reach

Karthigai Deepam is a popular festival of Kerala and is majorly celebrated in the Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple of Tiruvannamalai situated in Tamil Nadu. It is important to note that this place is situated at an approximate distance of 2,302, 203, 1,867, and 1,193 km from Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Mumbai respectively. To witness this peculiar festival in all its religious glory you can travel via the following routes. 

By Air. The town of Thiruvannamalai doesn’t have its own airport hence you can reach the city by taking a flight to the Puducherry Airport (PNY) which is around 100km away from Thiruvannamalai.

Airlines like SpiceJet, Air Asia, and IndiGo offer good flight connectivity to and fro Puducherry from cities like Delhi, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Mysore. After you deboard at the airport, you will need to cover the remaining distance of approximately 108km to Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple via some means of public transport.

By Road. Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu has good road connectivity with other cities like Coimbatore, Vellore, Mysuru. Here are the road routes you can take from different cities to reach the venue of the festival.

  1. From Coimbatore (330km) via NH79 or NH544
  2. From Vellore (83km) via NH38
  3. From Mysuru (338km) via NH77

Apart from traveling there by your own vehicle, you can also consider traveling by interstate buses. For example, from Kurnool, you can take a bus that will cost you about Rs. 800-1200 and the journey will take nearly 11 hours. Similarly, from Hyderabad, it will take you about 12-14 hours costing you around Rs.1400.

By Train. The town of Tiruvannamalai has its own railway station by the same name. This place falls under the district of the Tiruchirappalli railway division in the southern railway zone of the Indian Railways. Here are the various train options you can choose from different cities. 

  1. VM KPD passenger from Villupuram Junction, Villupuram
  2. Puducherry Express from Mumbai Dadar Railway Station, Dadar, Mumbai
  3. TPTY RMM Express from Tirupati Main Railway Station, Tirupati

From Tiruvannamalai station, the temple is at a mere distance of 2-3 km, so it would be quite easy for you to visit here as the public transport here is also smooth and readily available.

You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here


  • 2 Days

  • Religious

  • Tamil Nadu
  • Festival Date

    29 November 2020 - 30 November 2020

  • Venue

    Tiruvannamalai

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