Today we celebrated the Karthigai festival. Its a festival of warmth, lamps, and light. Its a time to meet the family, spread the cheer, and generally be happy. To mark this occasion the following extract from Tamil Nadu tourism website is replicated here for people to understand the significance.
From tamil nadu tourism:
There is an interesting story explaining the link between Karthigai and lamps. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma began to quarrel as to who was the more powerful of the two. While they were fighting, Lord Shiva appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma gave up quarrelling and decided to find the top and the bottom of the pillar.
Accordingly, Brahma assumed the form of a swan and moved upwards. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and started digging deep into the earth. But even after searching for several years, neither of the two was able to find the ends the pillar. Finally, they realised that the pillar was none other than Lord Shiva. Soon afterwards, Lord Shiva appeared as a hill (Arunachala Hill) at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. Indeed, the very names `Tiruvannamalai’ and `Arunachala’ translate as `holy fire hill.’ The Shivalinga in the temple here is the agni linga. The tiny lamps lit during the Karthigai festival (Karthigai Deepam) are believed to be the miniature replicas of the fire linga. Every year thousands of devotees from Chennai and elsewhere flock to Tiruvannamalai to see the spectacular Karthigai Deepam there.
It was about a year now that all festivities were stopped in our house due to the demise of my grandpa. But a year has passed and we celebrated Karthigai Deepam along with friends who celebrated the Tulsi Habba this time yet again.
Simple, elegant beautiful lamps were lit all over our house and the illumination it provided made the house shine in a brilliance of its own. The mythological significance of the Karthigai festival goes thus:
Mythological aspect of Karthigai Festival
Lord Siva appeared as a huge flame of light before Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma (hindu gods), who each considered Himself supreme and said that the matter could be tested if the two could search for their Lord Siva`s Head and feet. Lord Vishnu took the form of a (varagar)boar and delved deep into the earth, Lord Brahma that of a (Annam)swan and flew into the top, Lord Vishnu failed in His search and returned. But Lord Brahma, chancing upon a piece of `thazhambu`, a flower learnt from it that it had been floating down for thirty thousand years from Lord Siva`s head. He seized upon this and claimed to Lord Siva that he had seen the other`s top. Lord Siva realized the falsehood and pronounced that there would never be a temple for Lord Brahma in this world. He also interdicted the use of the flower thazhambu in His worship. Lord eswaran(siva) appeard as a flame, this day is called Maha Dheepam