Karthikai Deepam Or Karthikai Vilakku: Another Festival Of Lights

by VioletteRose

On Karthikai festival day, oil lamps are lighted everywhere using diyas or lemons, and also traditional foods are prepared and shared. The words deepam or vilakku means lights.

Karthikai or Karthika festival is celebrated on the glory of the Hindu goddess. It is celebrated every year on a day in November or December when the Karthika star constellation appears in the sky in the evening. I love this festival, because I have so many beautiful childhood memories including so many fun moments of lighting all the lamps. Traditionally oil diyas are lighted, but I have also used candles for decorating the house and garden. If you look at the street on a Karthika day where the festival is celebrated, it will look so beautiful with lighted lamps everywhere in houses, temples and shops.

Karthikai is also sometimes pronounced as Karthigai or simply Karthika. It is a constellation of six stars that appears in the form of a pendant in the sky.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Image

Actually the karthika festival is usually celebrated in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in South India. The word "Karthika" is Malayalam and the word "karthigai" is Tamil. Karthika is a star in the constellation and it has much importance in Hinduism with regards to the worship of the goddess. The festival falls either on a full moon day or the next day.

All festivals are beautiful, because those are times when we gather with everyone to celebrate and enjoy. Lighting the lamps together is such a fun activity to do together, if you pay enough attention while handling fire. The diyas made of clay that are lighted using oil have a beautiful and decorative look, and the lights can also cheer us and brighten up our lives.

Any festival celebrated in the world has some kind of traditional foods associated with it. Karthika festival is also celebrated with some special foods which are shared among family, friends and neighbours. If you normally share sweets and savoury snacks for Diwali, which is also a festival of lights, the foods prepared for Karthika festival is usually more healthy. You can steam root vegetables, mainly yams, tapioca and other locally available root vegetables and serve them with palm sugar or savoury side dishes like sliced green chili peppers mixed with salt and little sesame oil.

Another thing people do on Karthika festival day is decorating their gardens. Banana plant stems are fixed on the ground and then decorate with young coconut leaves. It looks quite beautiful and unique, although I am not sure if it has some meaning with regards to the festival, other than decorative purposes.

In temples, other than using diyas, people also light lamps using sliced, hollow lemon skins. It is believed that lighting lamps using diyas or lemons with oil can bring positive energy and good luck everywhere. Special poojas or rituals are also performed in temples during the day of Karthika festival.

In certain temples, pongala is also performed, when devotees prepare rice or desserts and perform poojas to seek blessings from the goddess.

Below you can see the image of lighted lamps in a temple on Karthika festival.

Karthikai Vilakku in temple
Karthikai Vilakku in temple
Wikimedia Commons Image

Oil Diyas that can be used for Karthika, Diwali and other festivals.

Diwali Diya (Set of 12 Traditional Diyas - Kodiyu)

Hand made clay Lamp Hand made clay Pot for paiting and decoration Hand made Diya for pooja and other religious ceremony Diameter Aproximately 3 inch

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PANCH AARTI ~ Hindu Puja Camphor Burner w/ Camphor Tablets ~ 5 Face Brass Diya Lamp

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Aarti & Diya in One with Supported Flame

Made from Brass, Length: 3.75", Height: 2", Based Diameter: 2.75", 35 ml, Diya Diameter: 1.75"

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Nowadays people also use decorative candles that don't require oil and also flameless LED lamps. You can find these lamps also here.

Instapark® LCL-C48 Battery-powered Flameless Color-changing LED Tealight Candles, Four Dozen Pack

Powered by one single widely available & inexpensive CR-2032 Lithium-ion button cell, the Instapark color-changing LED tealight candle can stay lit for well over one hundred hou...

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Sky Buddy 10 Pack LED RGB Rose Light

Sky Buddy 10 Pack LED RGB Rose Light

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Did you know about the Karthika Vilakku festival before?

Updated: 12/05/2014, VioletteRose
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


VioletteRose on 12/11/2014

Hi Frank, I am glad that you are learning something from these! Thanks so much for reading.

frankbeswick on 12/10/2014

Your articles on Hindu festivals are so useful to me that I am going to re-read them all with a notebook and pen in my hand. I need to absorb all this information.

VioletteRose on 12/10/2014

Thanks so much for reading WriterArtist, EmmaSRose and MBC :) Much appreciated!

MBC on 12/05/2014

Sounds like a beautiful event.

Guest on 12/05/2014

VioletteRose, Festivals involving lights -- especially candles or oil-based flames -- are so lovely, including the containers, such as diyas.
Light lamps using hollow lemon skins are particularly aromatic and pretty.
Even though I am familiar with this festival, I enjoy your presentation, and I am happy that appreciation of this lovely festival will be expanded by others reading your thoughtful article.
Very beautifully illustrated!

WriterArtist on 12/05/2014

Love this beautiful festival of lights. Came to know about it today that there is another festival other than Deepavali which celebrated with Diyas.

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