What is Karthigai Masam?

Karthigai Masam is a most holy month for both Shaiva and Vaishnava devotees. People believe that praying to them in this month brings prosperity. Karthigai Masam is a very special month for Lord Shiva as well. During this month, devotees observe vratham or fast and perform certain rituals. Following these rituals helps them live a good life and attain moksha. Fasting is done on every single Monday. People also donate clothes, gold, cows, etc.

Karthigai Masam helps us to realize that Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are the same and that we can achieve bliss by worshipping them in one form. Some of the important poojas observed during this time are Ekadasi, Ksheerabdhi Dwadasi, Karthigai Deepam and Karthigai Pournami pooja. People also light lamps near a Tulasi plant and do Nitya poojas for it. They also chant Vishnu and Shiva Sahasranamams, Shiva stotras, observe Monday fast and meditate on Lord Shiva.

It is believed that Lord Vishnu falls asleep on Ashada Shuddha Ekadasi and awakes on Karthigai Shuddha Ekadasi. During this period, Lord Shiva slew Tripurasuras on the day of Karthigai Pournami and saved the world from destruction. In Karthigai Masam, river Ganga merges with all waterbodies like ponds, rivers, canals, wells, etc. and purifies them. Also, Ayyapa Deeksha is taken during this month.

Generally, poojas are conducted for the entire month. If people cannot perform poojas for the whole month, they should pray for at least 10 days. The first five days of Karthigai Masam and the five days before Poornima are very sacred. This is a month when sins are destroyed and it has divine power. Lord Vishnu grants devotees their wishes and also gives them Moksha (Salvation).

Karthigai Masam Rituals:

People offer Lord Vishnu flowers, food, oil lamps (deepams), etc. during this month and receive great spiritual benefits.

The importance of Deepa Daanam finds mention in the Padma Puranam. The story goes that a hungry mouse tried to eat ghee from the lamp that devotees had offered to Lord Vishnu. But the ghee wick became stuck to its teeth. As the wick was burning, the mouse was unable to bear the heat and began jumping in front of the Lord's idol. Eventually, it died because of the fire. However, Lord Vishnu considered the jumping of the mouse with a lit ghee wick in its mouth as "Aarathi" performed to him. So he granted moksha to the mouse. This explains the greatness of Deepa Daanam. If one lights even a single lamp to God in this month with true devotion, it will remove all sins committed by them over a 1000 yugas. It is like the greatest gift we can offer to God and the person who uses sesame oil to light the lamps to Lord Shri Hari at dusk will be blessed with beauty, prosperity and wealth.

Hindus celebrate the Karthigai deepam on full moon day in Karthigai Masam, when the star 'Krithika' rises. On the holy hill, 'Arunachala', in South India, a huge beacon will be lit at this time. There is a story behind this. Once, Lord Shiva asked Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu to locate his head and feet. As he assumed a gigantic form, they failed to find them. At this time, Lord Shiva took the form of a Jyothi (light of fire) on Thiruvannamalai hill. Today, this is celebrated as a festival called "Annamalai Deepam". On top of the hill, a special torch will be lit and devotees believe that Lord Shiva's Jyothi can be seen on this day.

People take baths in the rivers in Karthigai Masam as it is considered holy and believed to confer medical benefits. During Shravana and Bhadrapada months, the rivers become flooded due to the rains and overflow their banks. Hence, no one bathes in the rivers during these months. But when Karthigai month starts, the river settles down. The moon has a significant role in Sharad Ruthuvu. This Ruthuvu covers Aswayuja and Karthigai Masam. During this period, the moon’s energy will be absorbed by the river and we absorb this energy as we take bath in the rivers. So it is absolutely necessary to take at least one dip during Karthigai Masam.

Another theory is that water absorbs more magnetic power from earth and gets stored in water until sunrise. This is why the ancients wanted people to take "Nadhi Snanams" (bathing in the rivers) before sunrise. Those who practise Magnetic Therapy believe that bathing in flowing river waters on Karthigai Somavaram (Monday) for at least 15minutes can get relief for liver and stomach problems.

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