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-Deepawali – the festival of lights of the gods. The Kartik Purnima festival also coincides with the Sikh festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti. Kartika Purnima celebrates the power of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Lord Shiva killed the demon Tripusara on this day and therefore Shiva Temples are crowded with devotees to celebrate the event. Kartika Purnima also coincides with the Jain light festival. Kartika (October / November) is considered to be the holiest month of the Hindu calendar. Kartika Purnima is the last day of the Hindu month of Kartik and coincides with the full moon day. It follows the last 5 days of celebrations which are collectively called Panchaka. The day of Kartika Purnima also heralds the festival of Dev Diwali. Kartika Purnima is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartik that falls during the months of October/November. The whole month of Kartik is considered sacred however it is the last day that is celebrated as Kartika Purnima as it coincides with a full moon. The festival of Kartika Purnima is celebrated mostly in Orissa. The festival is also known as Karthik Purnima, or Tripura Purnima as it signifies the end of the demon Tripusara or Tripuri. Kartika Purnima is dedicated to Lord Shiva who killed the demon Tripuri.
Kartika Purnima also celebrates the coming of Vishnu Matsya or the fish incarnation in order to save Manu, the first man from the primeval flood which destroyed the universe. Manu saved all species of animals, birds and insects so that they could flourish and grow.
Legend of Tripuri
Tripuri, a demon, did severe penance for many years in the sacred city of Prayag. Pleased with his dedication Lord Brahma granted him a boon. Tripuri asked that no God, human being, nishachav (evil spirit), women or disease should be able to kill him. Lord Brahma accepted his wish and Tripuri got the power to ruler over the three cities (puri) of Gold (heaven), Silver (earth) and Iron ( **** ). But as Tripuri became powerful he started tormenting his subjects and harassing the Gods. The Gods requested Lord Shiva to help them. Lord Shiva burnt all the three puri’s or cities and killed Tripuri. Therefore Kartika Purnima is also called Tripuri Purnima when all the Gods and people on earth express their joy by illuminating their homes.
Legend of Tarakasur or Taraka
Tarakasur was a demon who had three demon sons- Tarakah, Kamalaksh and Vidyutmali. Mayasur was the renowned architect of the demons who constructed three regions and gave one to each of Tarakasur’s sons. He advised them not to cross the paths of Gods or disrespect them.
All three of them performed severe penance which pleased Lord Brahma who granted them a boon that they would live for a thousand years in three invincible moving cities called Tripuri and could be destroyed by only one arrow that would merge the three cities into one and set them on fire. The cities were made of gold, silver and iron. The three brothers started harassing the Gods. Also the three moving cities never stayed in one place long enough to be destroyed together.
The Gods then approached Lord Shiva requesting him to destroy the cities. He seeked the help of other Gods and his army of Ganas. He danced the “Tandava”, the dance of destruction, that rocked the three cities. He shot an arrow piercing through the three cities at one time and the fire from his third eye burnt the three cities.
The killing of the three demons spread happiness around the world. This form of Shiva is called “Tripuraari or Tripurantaka”.
During the last five days of Kartika Purnima, also known as “Panchaka”, women take a purification bath each morning and draw beautiful flower designs in their homes. Fasting is commonly observed on these days. Shiva temples are visited on these days.
Devotees also try to bathe in the sacred rivers including River Ganges to get rid of their negativity and receive blessings from the Gods. This ritual follows the belief that on this day the Gods descend on earth and reside in the sacred rivers.
Pushkar, in Rajasthan is visited all year around by devotees for a dip in its holy lake. But it is believed that bathing in the lakes during Kartika Purnima relieves devotees of all their sins and frees them from the bonds of Samsara.
In the city of Cuttack, Orissa and a few some other towns, huge images of “Kartikeswar” are built and worshipped during Kartika Purnima. At night they are taken out in procession and are immersed in the Mahanadi River, near a Shiva temple.
During the month associated with Kartika Purnima, Hindus refrain from eating any non – vegetarian food.
Naivedyam, or flattened rice and coconut scrapings, is offered to the gods and then served as prasad to the devotees. During the five days food is consumed only once in the afternoon and is called as “Habisha”
Importance of Kartik Purnima Snan
Taking baths in different religious rivers has been a very old tradition in India. On the occasion of Kartik Purnima, a huge crowd can be seen taking baths on these different rivers. This day is considered auspicious according to various Vedas and Puranas. It is believed that taking a bath in a river, lake or any other place and remembering Lord Vishnu gives fruitful benefits.
Taking a bath according to a specific religious procedure in a sacred river helps in attaining salvation. No other month is considered to be more sacred than the Kartik month. Kartik month also has a scientific value. Kartik month ca be related to a seasonal change and taking a bath in the morning provides a person with immense energy. This also keeps a person healthy.
Importance of Kartik Purnima worship
It is believed that charities on this day is equal to a hundred Ashvamedh Yagyas. It is also believed that charities, donations etc in this month help in attaining salvation. All these things keep great importance on this auspicious day. Donations, charities etc. on this day, help in getting closer to Lord Shiva and keeps a person healthy and content. Kartik Purnima is one of the most important Purnimas of the year.
Importance of Kartik Poornima
Taking baths in river Ganga, donations, charities etc. relieves a person from all sorts of problems and helps in attaining salvation. All these things done on this day give extra beneficial results. According to a belief, these things help a person in going to heaven. It is believed that taking baths in sacred rivers or sacred places gives fruitful results. A lot of people take baths in river Ganga etc. on this day. Some of these places and rivers are Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Narmada, Godavari, Kurukshetra, Ayodhya, Kashi etc.
According to Shastras, this day is the beginning of Lord Vishnu’s sleep. Kartik month begins when Sun enters Libra sign. People offer prayers and perform different religious practices during this month. Fasting in the Kartik month is considered to be the road to salvation in Kalyug.
Sharad Purnima is also called Kojagiri Purnima.
In the Mithila region, the puja is known by the name of Kojagaraha. It is celebrated in all Maithil households. All the household gods are cleaned and put out in the “AANGAN”. Prior to the putting out of idols, the “aangan” is cleaned and decorated with rice flour paste “ARIPAN” OR “ALPANA”.They are prayed to and an offering of “PAAN, MAKHAAN, BATASHA” and “KHEER OR PAYAS” is made. They are kept out there overnight so that they are bathed in the pious “Sharad Purnima” moonlight also known as “Amrit Barkha”. It is generally a big celebration for the newly wed couple too. The new bride decorates the house with a rice paste and makes “ALPANA” OR “ARIPAN”. The bride, groom and the brother-in-laws play games the whole night. Paan, Makhaan and Sweets are distributed. A big basket having “DHAAN-Rice”, “DOOB” grass, Makhaan, “PAAN”, coconut, banana, whole nuts, yagyopavit/janeu threads, cloves, cardamom, silver pennies or fishes or turtles made up of silver, yogurt, sweets and Mithila Paintings arrives from the brides home. New clothes are also sent to the in-laws.
At night goddess Laxmi is worshipped. Some people believe that on this night Laxmi moves about from place to place asking, “Who is awake?” (“Kojagarti?”) and shows her pleasure on those she finds awake. So people sit in the moonlight singing songs, or keep themselves entertained in some other way. They fast from solid food and take only fluids like coconut water or milk. Milk is boiled till it thickens, and milk masala (a readymade combination of dry fruits) is added to it and drunk.
The Sanatkumar Samhita cites the story of ‘Kojaagari Punam.’ In the Samhita Vaalkhil rishi narrates that in ancient times, a poor Brahmin named Valit lived in Magadhdesh – Bengal. While he was a learned and virtuous man, his wife revelled in quarelling, behaving totally opposite to his wishes. Once on his father’s `Shraddh’ – day of paying homage to the deceased- she flung the ‘pind’ – ball of wheatflour – in a sewage pit, rather than the sacred Ganga, as custom required. This infuriated Valit. Therefore he renounced home to search for wealth. In the forests, he met ‘Naagkanyas’ – girls of Kaliya Naag’s ancestry. These Naagkanyas had performed the ‘Kojaagari Vrat’ – staying awake on Aso sud Punam. They then sat gambling with Valit. The night happened to be Aso sud Punam. Valit lost everything. At that moment, Lord Vishnu and consort Lakshmi, happened to pass by. Since Valit had incidentally observed the ‘Kojaagari vrat’, Lakshmi graced him handsomeness similar to that of ‘Kamdeva’ – the deity of love. Now attracted to him, the Naagkanyas married Valit and gifted him their riches. He then returned home with the riches, whence his wife received him warmly. After this episode, the Samhita declared that those who remain awake on this Punam will be graced with wealth.