A beautifully decorated chariot, placed near my son’s school, attracted my attention on Nov 24, 2015. I later learned that it had been decorated for Kartik Poornima and thought that it would be a good idea to compile some facts about this festival.
What is Kartik Poornima?
Kartik Poornima, also known as Tripurari Poornima and Tripuri Poornima, is of great significance to the followers of three religions—Sikhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Some people call it Deva Deepawali or Deva Diwali, which means “festival of lights of the gods.” It is celebrated on the full moon day or the fifteenth day of the lunar month of Kartik (November/December). This year, it was celebrated all over the country on November 25.
Significance of the Day in Hinduism
Hindus celebrate Kartik Poornima in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the most powerful deities in their pantheon. On this auspicious day, Shiva is believed to have assumed the form of Tripurantaka to slay the troublesome demon Tripurasura. Jubilant at being delivered from the evil clutches of this demon, the gods declared that the day would be henceforth celebrated as Deva Diwali.
Hindus also believe that Lord Vishnu, the sustainer of the universe, assumed the form of a fish on this day for the benefit of humankind.
Kartik Poornima is the day on which Vrinda, the personified form of tulsi, a plant considered holy in Hindu culture, and Kartikeya, the son of Shiva and Parvati, were born.
Hindus also take it as an opportunity to honor the divine lovers Radha and Krishna, who were believed to have danced the rasa on this day.
The community also honors dead ancestors on this auspicious day.
How Hindus Observe Kartik Poornima
Hindu religious texts prescribe ritual baths at major pilgrim centers. Accordingly, devotees take a dip in the waters of the Ganga at Varanasi in large numbers.
Temples organize large scale offerings of food called annakootas.
Devotees worship Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
Sacred texts forbid all acts of violence on this day.
Hindus refrain from cutting hair, shaving, cutting down trees, plucking flowers and fruits, and cutting crops.
Devotees are required to perform acts of charity, especially giving away gifts of cows and gold.
They decorate temples, houses, and sacred trees and plants such as tulsi and amla with brilliantly lit lamps.
Watch a video of the fireworks show outside Lord Venkataramana Temple on Car Street, held as part of Kartik Poornima celebrations on Nov 25, 2015.
Significance of the Day in Jainism
The Jains believe that Lord Mahavira, the 24th tirthankara, attained salvation on this day. They also believe that the first tirthankara, Adinath, visited Shatrunjay Hills in Palitana to deliver his first sermon. Jain sacred texts, also known as Agams, say that many holy people have attained salvation on these hills.
How Jains Observe Kartik Poornima
Jains go on a pilgrimage to Shatrunjay Hills in large numbers to visit the temple of Lord Adinath and offer worship. The day is especially significant as they are not permitted to pray during the four monsoon months, and the way to the temple is blocked during the rainy days. On Kartik Poornima, the way to Shatrunjay Hills is finally opened to countless Jain devotees.
They walk nearly 220kms of rough, mountainous road to reach Lord Adinath’s temple on top of Shatrunjay Hills.
Jains worship Lord Adinath and Lord Mahavira.
They read the Agams in their houses and hold grand family feasts.
They decorate their temples and houses with brilliantly lit lamps
The Jains of Kolkata have been organizing a grand Shobha Yatra of Bhagwan Parshwanath on Kartik Poornima for the past 190 years.
Significance of the Day in Sikhism
Kartik Poornima for the Sikhs is the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. He was born on Kartik Poornima in 1469, and the Sikhs celebrate the day as Guru Nanak Jayanti, Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav, and Guru Nanak Gurpurab.
How Sikhs Observe Kartik Poornima
Sikhs hold early morning processions that usually start at their Gurudwaras and wind around the locality. They sing hymns as they walk along.
They hold Akhand Path, a practice of reading the Guru Granth Sahib, their holy book, continuously for 48 hours before Kartik Poornima.
On Gurpurab day, they sing hymns from 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., a time span they consider to be Amrit Vela or the auspicious time. But they also hold prayer sessions at night.
Guru Nanak Gurpurab celebrations are especially colorful and enthusiastic in Chandigarh, Haryana, and Punjab.
My View of Kartik Poornima
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), there are four seasons.
Winter (December – March) – the coldest time of the year
Summer (April – June) – the hottest time of the year
Monsoon (July – September) – it pours cats and dogs during these months
Post-monsoon (autumn) – October and November
Unless I have forgotten to count (tell me if I have), October and November have more festivals than any other time of the year. I feel that the changing seasons have something to do with this.
Nobody can deny that October and November are the loveliest months of the year. The monsoon has retreated, but the winter has not yet set in. During these months, you will hardly see dark clouds in the sky, and the moonlit nights are breathtakingly beautiful.
Some parts of South India, and that includes Mangalore, do get rains because of the northeast monsoon, which carries winds laden with light moisture from the northeast to the southwest. The light showers, the shorter days, the bright moonlit nights, flowers in full bloom, the pleasant weather, the bright November moon, and the cool breeze enhance moods. Undoubtedly, it is celebration time—a great time of the year for star gazers, nature lovers, and religious people.