Kartika Poornima: November 28, 2012
|Also called||Tripuri Poornima, Tripurari Poornima, Deva-Diwali, Deva-Deepawali|
|Observed by||Hindus, Sikhs and Jains|
|Observances||Prayers and religious rituals, including puja to Vishnu and Harihara|
|2013 date||17 November (Sunday)|
|2014 date||06 November (Thursday)|
Kartika Poornima (Kartika purnima) is a Hindu, Jain and Sikh holy festival, celebrated on the Purnima (full moon) day or the fifteenth lunar day of Kartika (November–December). It is also known as Tripuri Poornima and Tripurari Poornima. It is sometimes called Deva-Diwali or Deva-Deepawali - the festival of lights of the gods.
Significance in Hinduism
Tripuri Poornima or Tripurari Poornima derives its name from Tripurari - the foe of the demon Tripurasura. In some legends of Kartik Poornima, the term is used to denote the three demon sons of Tarakasur. Tripurari is an epithet of god Shiva. Shiva in his form as Tripurantaka ("Killer of Tripurasura") killed Tripurasura on this day. Tripurasura had conquered the whole world and defeated the gods and also created three cities in space, together called "Tripura". The killing of the demon(s) and destruction of his/their cities with a single arrow - by Shiva overjoyed the gods and they declared the day as a festival of illuminations. This day is also called "Dev-Diwali" - the Diwali of the gods. Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights.
Kartik poornima is also the birthday of Matsya, god Vishnu's fish-incarnation (Avatar). It is also the birthday of Vrinda, the personification of the Tulsi plant and of Kartikeya, the god of war and son of Shiva. This day also is considered special for Radha, the lover of Krishna - Vishnu's incarnation. It is believed that Krishna and Radha danced rasa and Krishna worshipped Radha on this day. This day is also dedicated to the pitrs, dead ancestors.
Underhill believes that the origins of this festival may lie in ancient times, when a sacrifice called Shakamedhah was performed to attain victory over enemies.
The festival has even more significance when the day falls in the nakshatra (lunar mansion) Krittika and is then called Maha Kartik. The nakshatra is Bharani, the results are stated to be special. If it is Rohini nakshatra, then the fruitful results are even much more. Any philanthropic act on this day is supposed to bring benefits and blessings equal to the performing of ten yajnas (sacrifices).
Kartik Poornima is closely associated with Prabodhini Ekadashi which marks the end of Chaturmas, a four-month period when Vishnu is believed to sleep. Prabodhini Ekadashi signifies the awakening of the god. Chaturmas penance ends on this day. Many fairs that begin on Prabodhini Ekadashi end on Kartik Poornima, Kartik Poornima usually being the most important day of the fair. Fairs that conclude on this day include Prabodhini Ekadashi celebrations at Pandharpur and Pushkar Fair. Kartik Poornima is also the last day to perform Tulsi Vivah ceremony that can be performed from Prabodhini Ekadashi.
In Pushkar, Rajasthan, the Pushkar Fair or Pushkar mela commences on Prabodhini Ekadashi and continues till Kartik Poornima, the latter being the most important. This fair is held in honour of god Brahma, whose temple stands at Pushkar. A ritual bath on Kartik Poornima in the Pushkar Lake is considered to lead one to salvation. It is believed circling the three Pushkars on Kartik Poornima is highly meritorious. Sadhus gather here and stay from ekadashi to full moon day in caves. About 200,000 people and 25,000 camels assemble in Pushkar for the fair. Pushkar fair is Asia's largest camel fair.
A ritual bath at a tirtha (a sacred water body like a lake or river) at a pilgrimage centre is prescribed on Kartik Poornima. This holy bath is known as "Kartik snana". An holy bath at Pushkar or in the Ganges river, especially at Varanasi is deemed as most auspicious. Kartik Poornima is the most popular day for bathing in the Ganges at Varanasi. The devotees also take a bath in the evening during moonrise and offer worship by way of six prayers such as Shiva sambuti, Satait and so forth.
Annakuta, an offering of food to the deities, is held in temples. People who have taken vows on Ashwin full moon day, end them on Kartik Poornima. God Vishnu is also worshipped on this day. Any form of violence (himsa) is prohibited on this day. This includes shaving, hair-cutting, cutting of trees, plucking of fruits and flowers, cutting of crops and even, sexual union. Charity especially donation of cows, feeding of Brahmins, fasting are religious activities prescribed for Kartik Poornima. Giving gift of gold is said to fulfill all desires of people.
Tripuri Poornima is only next to Mahashivratri, amongst festivals dedicated to Shiva worship. To commemorate the killing of Tripurasura, images of Shiva are carried in procession. Temple complexes in southern India are lit up throughout the night. Deepmalas or towers of lights are illuminated in temples. People place 360 or 720 wicks in temples, to secure escape reaching hell after death. The 720 wicks symbolizes the 360 days and nights of the Hindu calendar. In Varanasi, the ghats come alive with thousands of diyas (brightly lit earthen lamps). People gift lamps to priests. The lamps are kept throughout the night in houses and Shiva temples. This day is also known as "Kartik Diparatna" - the jewel of lamps in Kartik. Lights are also floated in miniature boats in rivers. Lights are placed under Tulsi, Sacred fig and Amla trees. The lights in the water and under trees are believed to help fishes, insects and birds who saw the light to attain salvation.
Kartik Poornima is an important religious day for Jains who celebrate it by visiting Palitana a Jain pilgrimage centre. Thousands of Jain pilgrims flock to the foothills of Shatrunjay hills of Palitana taluka on the day of Kartik Poornima to undertake the auspicious yatra (journey). Also known as the Shri Shantrunjay Teerth Yatra, this walk is an important religious event in the life of a Jain devotee, who covers 216 km of rough mountainous terrain on foot to worship at the Lord Adinath temple atop the hill.
Considered to be a very auspicious day for Jains, the day also assumes more significance for the walk, as the hills, which are closed to the public during the four months of Chaturmas, are thrown open for the devotees on Kartik Poornima. The day of Kartik Poornima is very significant in Jainism. As devotees are kept away from worshipping their lord for four months of the monsoon season, the first day attracts the maximum number of devotees. Jains believe that Adinath, the first tirthankara, sanctified the hills by visiting it to deliver his first sermon. According to Jain texts, millions of sadhus and sadhvis have attained salvation on these hills.
For Sikhs, too, the day of Kartik Poornima is very auspicious, as it coincides with their festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti (Guru Nanak Gurpurab). The founder of their religion, Guru Nanak was born on the day of Kartik Poornima in 1469 AD Apart from Sikhs, the Nanakpanthi Hindus and other followers of Guru Nanak's philosophy also celebrate this festival.
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