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Kartik Poornima

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Kartik Poornima
Also called Tripuri poornima, Tripurari Poornima, Deva-Diwali, Deva-Deppawali
Observed by Hindus and Jains
Type Hindu
Date Decided by the lunar calendar
Observances Prayers and religious rituals, including puja to Vishnu

Kartik Poornima (Kartik purnima) is a Hindu holy day celebrated on the full moon day or the fifteenth lunar day of Kartik (November-December). It is also known as Tripuri poornima and Tripurari Poornima. It is sometimes called Deva-Diwali or Deva-Deppawali - the festival of lights of the gods.[1] The Kartik Purnima festival also coincides with the Sikh festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti.

Significance in Hinduism

Shiva Tripurantaka

Here, the five headed Tripurantaka is seen pointing an arrow towards the Tripura (rightmost top corner) with the bow made of mount Meru, the serpent Vasuki is seen as its string. The four headed god Brahma is seen. The moon and the Sun are depicted as the wheels of the chariot.

Tripuri poornima or Tripurari Poornima derives its name from Tripurari - the foe of the demon Tripurasura. Tripurari is an epithet of god Shiva. Shiva in his form as Tripurantaka ("Killer of Tripurasura") killed the demon on this day.[2] Tripurasura had conquered the whole world and defeated the gods. He also craeted three cities in space, together called "Tripura". The killing of the demon and destruction of his cities with a single arrow - by Shiva overjoyed the gods and they pronounced 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.[3]

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 dear to 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.[3][4]

Underhill believes that the origins of this festival may lay in ancient times, when a sacrifice called Shakamedhah was performed to attain victory over enemies.[5]

Hindu rituals

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.[3] 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 the 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.[6][7][8][9][10]

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".[3][11] An holy bath at Pushkar or in the Ganga river, especially at Varanasi is deemed as most auspicious. Kartik Poornima is the most popular day for bathing in the Ganga at Varanasi.[4]

Annakuta, an offering of food to the deities, is held in temples.[3] 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.[11] Charity especially donation of cows, feeding of Brahmins, fasting are religous activities prescribed for Kartik Poornima.[4]

Tripuri Poornima is only next to Mahashivratri, amongst festivals dedicated to Shiva worship.[5] To commemorate the killing of Tripurasura, images of Shiva are carried in procession. Temple complexes in soutern 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.[3] The 720 wicks symbolizes the 360 days and nights of the Hindu calenadr.[4] In Varanasi, the ghats come alive with thousands of diyas (brightly-lit earthern lamps).[4] 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.[5] Lights are also floated in minature boats in rivers. Lights are placed under Tulsi, Sacred fig and Amla tress. The lights in the water and under trees are believed to help fishes, insects and birds who saw the light to attain salvation.[11]

Jainism

Palitana

Palitana temples

Kartik Poornima is an important religious day for Jains who celebrate it by visiting Palitana one of the most famous Jain pilgrimage centre. [12] 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 cover 216 km of rough mountainous terrain by foot to worship the Lord Adinath temple atop the hill.

Considered as a very auspicious day for Jains, the day also assumes significance for the walk as the hills, which are closed for public during the four months of monsoon, are thrown open for the devotees on Kartik Poornima. The day of Kartik Poornima holds significance in Jain religion and devotees are kept away from worshipping their lord for four months of monsoon and hence the first day attracts the maximum number of devotees. According to Jainism , 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.[12]

See also

References

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