Among many other things, India is known for its various festivals and celebrations. India is a country known for its diversity in terms of people and culture.
With so many different types of culture present in India which make India, there are bound to be many different kinds of festivities and rituals. One such festival is the Katik Purnima.
Kartik Purnima is a unique festival. Just like its name suggests, Kartik Purnima is celebrated in the month of Kartik, when there is full moon or Purnima.
It is celebrated with much fervour and enthusiasm by three prominent communities in India, the Hindus, Sikh and even Jain.
It is known by many names according to the region where it is celebrated. Some call it as Tripurari Purnima while others celebrate it by the name of Deva- Diwali.
Kartik Poornima is celebrated all over India. But, it is mainly celebrated in the South Indian states of Kerela, Karantaka, etc where it is known as the ‘festival of lights of gods’
Kartik Purnima as a Jain Festival
As stated before, Kartik Purnima is celebrated by the Jain communities. Most of the rituals followed the Hindu devotees during this festival are not followed by Jain devotees. Jain devotees celebrate Kartik Purnima by going on a pilgrimage to the famous Jain religious site of Palitana.
They reach Palitana pilgrimage centre of walk the auspicious Shri Shantrunjay Teerth Yatra on the day of the festival. They walk and trek over the hills, barefoot, and without eating, just to have a darshan of Adinath, the first Tirthankara and founder of Jainism. Such is the devotion.
To walk such a long distance barefoot, with empty stomachs on the hilly terrain full of stones and danger is not an easy task. Their stomachs might be empty but their hearts are full.
The Jain people believe that through such hard penance, salvation might be possible. Salvation and the purification of the soul form sins is the ultimate goal.
Origin according to Mythology
The origin of this festival lies in a mythical tale. According to this tale, Tripurasura the powerful demon was causing havoc to the gods.
He had plunged and caused violence and loss all over the world. The demon succeeded in brutally defeating all gods who came in his way of conquering the whole world.
He had also three cities of demons which were collectively called the ‘Tripura’. This had become a major issue. There was death and destruction all around.
It was during that time that Shiva took the form of Tripurantaka. He had done so to save the world for the demon Tripurasura.
Tripurantaka literally translates to mean ‘the killer of Tripurasura’ and Shiva, in this form did just that. Tripurantaka used his mighty bow and arrow and with a single strike of the arrow, he killed the demon Tripurantaka and his cities and property.
This marked the winning of good over evil. All the other gods were thankful and happy that this tumultuous time had finally come to an end.
This day of holy celebration came to be known as Karthik Purnima, or Dev Diwali or Diwali of the gods. It was celebrated as the festival of lights celebrated by the very gods themselves. The evil was finally gone.
There is another origin tale related to the festival of Karthik Purnima. According to some other legends, the festival of Karthik Purnima is celebrated as the birthday of Matsya. Matsya is one of the reincarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu.
It is said that the day of Kartik Purnima is also the birthday of Karthika, the son of the Hindu god Shiva himself who resides in heaven.
It is also regarded as the day when Krishna worshipped his lover Radha and they both spent time together. All the origin tales find their roots in Hindu mythology. While the stories might differ, the main essence remains the same.
Kartik Purnima- An End
Kartik Purnima also denotes the end day of many phenomenons. It is the day when the four month period of Chaturmas ends. Chaturmas is the period when Hindu god rests and sleeps. Thus, after Kartik Purnima, God awakes and graces us with his blessings.
The festival therefore also celebrates the awakening of god. Kartik Purnima is also the very last day to perform the Hindu ritual of Tulsi Vivah and therefore is extremely important.
Kartik Purnima is alos a festivl that marks the end of Hindu vows which were earlier taken to grant some wish. Kartik Purnima is also a day that marks and celebrates the defeat and end of evil. Truth and good always triumph and this festival celebrates that very fact.
It is a festival of lights and even if for the gods, it celebrated with equal enthusiasms by humans. People light lamps, diyas, etc. to illuminate their homes and their lives.
People wear their best clothes and greet and celebrate with each other and eat delicious food. On this day, people forget their anger and past inhibitions and problems and just immerse themselves into light, good and purification.
Rituals and Traditions
There are many rituals conducted during the day of the Kartik Purnima that are local in nature. For example, in Tamil Nadu, people illuminate their houses by lighting lamps and decorating their house with it.
In the Tiruvannamalai region of Tamil Nadu, Kartik Purnima is celebrated as a ten day event with many different activities and rituals. In another region of Andhra Pradesh, lamps are lighted for the whole month during Kartik Purnima.
Offerings are also given to the Hindu god Shiva. Shiva is the main deity of Kartik Purnima. It has after all he, who destroyed evil and protected the world from death and destruction on this auspicious day.
Kartik Purnima- A Sikh Festival
Kartik Purnima is also an important day for the Sikh community. Sikh community believes in simplicity and purity. They celebrate Kartik Purnima as Guru Nanak Jayanti all over the world. Sikh guru Guru Nanak was born on the day of Purnima, or full moon.
Kartik Purnima and the Pushkar Mela
Kartik Purnima is also important for another reason. The Pushkar mela, which is known throughout the world, also comes to an end on the day of Kartik Purnima.
This day is also the most significant day of the Mela. Holy people and devotees from all over India come to take a dip in the holy waters on the day of the festival because doing that can clean a person of her sins.
The day of Kartik Purnima is therefore a very auspicious and holy day, when Hindu devotees from all over the world come to let go of their sins, purify themselves and start afresh. Indian culture is indeed beautiful.
As this is day of purification of the mind and the soul, people do not engage in activities that involve violence or even promotes it.
They even go to the extent of not using scissors, or plucking flowers on that day. Such is the devotion to the ultimate aim of purification and freeing of the soul.
On this day, holy devotees also direct devotees to donate and help the society. This furthers the idea that we should give back to nature and be thankful for what it has done for us.
There are many rituals conducted during the day of the Kartik Purnima that are local in nature.
Thus, the festival of Kartik Purnima is shared by three communities, the Hindi, Jain and the Sikh. But while this is true, historians suggest that the origin of the festival lies in Hinduism, after which it was adopted by other religions and regions.
Kartik Purnima is celebrated by many names. However, the ultimate goal remains the same. The main objective of this festival is to purify the soul of sins and dirt. It is only a purified soul that can attain salvation and enlightenment.
In this day and age, when human society is going down on ethics and morals, and compassion is slowly reducing, the people are becoming more greedy and selfish.
In such a situation, the festival of Kartik Purnima is quite important. It makes us remember that we need to donate, to help, to give back not only for others, but for own self.
It furthers the idea of peace, non- violence and a soul with no sins. Such a festival is extremely crucial to retain morals and values in the society.