Karthigai Deepam is a festival observed when the Moon aligns with the Kritikka Nakshatra during the Tamil month of Karthigai. The Kritikka Nakshatra, known as the Pleiades, is symbolized by a cluster of six stars and is connected to Lord Kartikeya. This festival involves lighting clay lamps with ghee to symbolize the removal of darkness, ignorance, and impurities. Similar to Raksha Bandhan in North India, sisters pray for their brothers’ welfare on this day, reinforcing familial bonds.

2023 Karthigai Deepam Timings

New York, USA – 26 Nov, 2023
Kritikka Nakshatra Begins – 03:35 AM on Nov 26, 2023
Kritikka Nakshatra Ends – 03:05 AM on Nov 27, 2023

London, UK – 26 Nov, 2023
Kritikka Nakshatra Begins – 08:35 AM on Nov 26, 2023
Kritikka Nakshatra Ends – 08:05 AM on Nov 27, 2023

Chennai, India – 26 Nov, 2023
Kritikka Nakshatra Begins – 02:05 PM on Nov 26, 2023
Kritikka Nakshatra Ends – 01:35 PM on Nov 27, 2023

For local timings based on where you live, download the align27 app and visit the Karthigai Deepam rituals section.

Karthigai Deepam Rituals

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  1. Perform Sun Salutations: Since Kritikka Nakshatra is ruled by the Sun, start your day with Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar). This yoga sequence honors the Sun God and helps align your energy with the cosmic rhythm.
  2. Offer Arghya to the Sun: Pay homage to the Sun God by offering Arghya. Tap here to learn how to perform Arghya.
  3. Meditate on Kandha Shashti Kavacham: Listen to or chant the Kandha Shashti Kavacham, a sacred hymn in honor of Lord Kartikeya. This meditation can bring protection and spiritual fortitude.
  4. Chant the Rudra Gayatri Mantra: Recite the Rudra Gayatri Mantra 108 times. This mantra honors Lord Shiva and can be found on the Japa108 app. This mantra “Aum Tatpurushaya Vidmahe, Mahadevaya Dheemahi, Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat” is especially significant as it relates to the Tatpurusha aspect of Lord Shiva, symbolizing the fire element.
  5. Light Lamps in the Evening: Begin by lighting earthen lamps (deepams) in/around your home at dusk. Use sesame oil/Ghee and cotton wicks for the lamps, as these are traditionally believed to bring prosperity and health. Place these lamps on your windowsills, doorways, and in your prayer room. The act of lighting lamps symbolizes the removal of darkness and ignorance from your life.
  6. Pray for Siblings: Take a moment to pray for the well-being of your brothers and siblings, wishing them health, happiness, and prosperity.
  7. Invoke Lord Agni: Recognize the significance of Lord Agni, the deity of Kritikka Nakshatra. Understand that while fire can purify, it can also destroy, so choose peace and silence over arguments and confrontations today.
  8. Perform Gayatri Mantra Japa and Agnihotra: If you are initiated into Upanayanam, it’s beneficial to perform Gayatri Mantra Japa and Agnihotra. These rituals help harness the energy of the full moon to dispel negativity and bring optimism.
  9. Honor Your Ancestors: Remember and honor your ancestors by praying for their onward journey. Seek their blessings and guidance for your life.
  10. Watch the Maha Deepam at Thiruvannamalai Temple – You can watch it LIVE on youtube.

Karthigai Deepam – Holistic Remedy for Sun, Mars and Ketu

The Sun, Mars and Ketu are the firey planets in the zodiac representing Agni Tattva (fire element) and that is why Karthigai Deepam is considered a powerful remedy for astrological influences related to Mars, Sun, and Ketu.

  • Mars (Mangal): The festival’s emphasis on lighting lamps and invoking divine light is believed to pacify the fiery nature of Mars. The act of lighting earthen lamps represents dispelling aggression and impulsiveness, traits associated with a negatively influenced Mars, and fostering harmony and courage.
  • Sun (Surya): Karthigai Deepam, with its association to Lord Shiva in the form of infinite light, resonates with the Sun’s qualities of illumination and vitality. When you perform the Karthigai Deepam rituals with utmost sincerity, it can enhance the positive aspects of the Sun in your horoscope, promoting vitality, health, and authority.
  • Ketu: The spiritual significance of Karthigai Deepam aligns well with Ketu’s inclination towards enlightenment and moksha (liberation).

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 (Tatpurusha Aghora, Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Ishana and Adhomuka). 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