Significance of Karthigai Deepam

Karthigai Deepam is celebrated when Moon transits Kritikka Nakshatra in the Tamil month of Karthigai. Kritikka Nakshatra appears as a group of 6 stars more commonly known as the Pleiades. On this day lamps made of clay and ghee are lit around and inside the entire home as a way to dispel darkness, ignorance and impurities. On this day Sisters pray for the welfare of their brothers similar to Raksha Bandhan in North India. It’s time to renew and strengthen the bond.

In 2021, it falls on Nov 19, 2021, in most places. For local timings download the align27 app. This day we will also experience a partial lunar eclipse in Kritikka Nakshatra.


For personalized rituals based on your own birth chart check the align27 app.

  1. Kritikka Nakshatra is ruled by the Sun – So performing Sun Salutations and Arghya to honor the Sun God is extremely beneficial.
  2. Listen to Aditya Hrudayam – to win over our inner demons.
  3. Meditate on Kandha Sashti Kavacham to honor Lord Kartikeya.
  4. Chant the Rudra Gayatri Mantra 108 times to worship Lord Shiva. This is available on the app as well. “Aum Tatpurushaya Vidmahe, Mahadevaya Dheemahi, Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat”. Tatpurusha form of Lord Shiva depicts the fire element.
  5. In the evening, light lamps made of clay, add ghee to it and arrange them in rows inside and outside your homes. If you are unable to find an earthen lamp even tea lights will do. With every lamp, you light say a silent prayer to Lord Shiva and ask him to help you dispel darkness and ignorance and bring in light and wisdom into your life.
  6. Pray for the welfare of your brothers and siblings.
  7. Lord Agni is the deity of Kritikka Nakshatra – Lord Agni is invoked in all the fire ceremonies or homas and he acts as the transporter of our wishes, desires and prayers to the divine. Lord Agni and the fire element can be used for purification as well as destruction. So it is important today to choose silence and peace over arguments and confrontations. There are chances that your ego may be challenged. In the process of proving your point avoid heated discussions.
  8. If you are initiated into Upanayam, it is very beneficial to do your Gayatri Mantra Japa and Agnihotra which will help you utilize the energy of the full moon to dispel negativity and bring in optimism and positivity not just for yourself but to everyone around you.
  9. Honor your Ancestors by remembering them and praying for their onward journey. Seek their blessings.

The Story of Kritikka Nakshatra

It is believed that Lord Shiva created Lord Kartikeya or Lord Muruga from his 3rd eye of six primary faces (Tatpurusam, Aghoram, Sadyojatam, Vamadevam, Eesanam and Adhomukam). It is believed that the six forms made into six children and each of them brought up by the six celestial nymphs and later merged into one by his mother Parvati.

As the six nymphs helped in bringing up the child, Lord shiva blessed immortality to the six nymphs as ever living stars on the sky known as the Pleiades. Any worship performed to these six stars is equal to worshiping Lord Kartikeya himself. They are worshiped by lighting up rows of oil lamps (Deepam) in the evening of the festival day around the houses and streets.

Lord Shiva as Lord Arunachaleshwara in Thiruvannnamalai – The Maha Deepam

Once Lord Shiva assumed the form of a hill at Tiruvannamalai in South India. Here He quelled the pride of Brahma and Vishnu who were quarreling as to their relative greatness. Arunachalesvara is Tejo Lingam. Arunachala or Tiruvannamalai Hill is the place that represents the fire element. (The five elements are represented by five holy places in India.)

When the light on the top of the Tiruvannamalai Hill is unveiled on the Kartigai Deepam day, people see the big light and worship it. The esoteric meaning is that he who sees the light of lights that is burning eternally in the chambers of his heart through constant meditation attains immortality. The light on the Arunachala brings the message to you that the Self or Lord Shiva is self-effulgent, He is the light of lights.

On the Kartigai Deepam day in South India, people make bonfires in front of temples in the evening. It is said that Lord Shiva burnt the chariots of several demons who were torturing sages and celestials. This bonfire symbolizes this legend.

People place rows of earthen lamps in front of their houses on the evening of Kartigai Deepam and worship the Lord. They also light a variety of fireworks.

Annihilate the three impurities, namely, egoism, selfish action and delusion. Burn the mind, senses and desires in the fire of knowledge of the Self or Shiva-Jnanam. Attain full illumination and behold the light of lights, which illumines the mind, intellect, sun, moon, stars, lightning and the fire. This is real Kartigai Deepam.

May the light of lights illumine you all! May Lord Shiva bless you with more light! May you merge in this supreme light and attain the eternal abode of bliss and immortality!

-Swami Sivananda