Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sparkling Indian Festival of Lamps : Kaarthigai : Dev Diwali : Kaarthik Poornima : Guru Poorab

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Kaarthigai in Tamil Nadu is celebrated just the same way Deepawali is celebrated everywhere in Northern India. This festival of lamps is known by the name of Dev Diwali in Gujarat & Banaras. They say Dev Diwali in Banaras is simply one of its kind & one must be a witness to this beautiful festival of lamps in Banaras at least once in one's lifetime on the banks of sacred River Ganga.

I have a feeling, every region in India celebrates this festival of lamps in its own way on the sacred day of Kaarthik Poornima. People take a holy dip on this sacred day in holy rivers in many parts of Northern India.

Not just for Hindus, this day is very special in Sikh dominated Punjab also. Sikh Guru Guru Nanak Dev was born on this sacred day & Sikhs around the globe celebrate Guru Poorab in their holy shrines Gurudwaras on this day. One should just not miss the 'Guru Kaa Langar' in Gurudwaaras on the day of Guru Poorab. The simple & lavish pure vegetarian lunch at Gurudwaras on this auspicious day is truly one of its kind. All the devotees visiting Gurudwaara on this day take part in community cooking in the common kitchen of the holy shrine.

Karthigai was a festival, I simply loved as a child, helping my mother light hundreds of lamps all over the house and its surrounding areas. This was followed by joyous cracker bursting with whatever leftover crackers we had after Deepawali celebrations. I was under the impression that only Tamilians celebrate this beautiful festival of countless lamps just like the popular Deepawali festival of India. Only later in life, after having stayed in every corner of India, during my husband's tenure in the Indian Armed Forces Medical Corps, I realised that this festival is not unique of TamilNadu alone. Many other states in India too celebrate this festival under different names, including Sikhs who call it Guru Poorab or Guru Nanak's birthday.

Karthigai is known as Dev Deepawali in Banaras / Varanasi & is truly one of its kind in India. I always wanted to visit Varanasi just for witnessing this breathtaking festival of lamps. And am still eagerly waiting for the opportunity someday.

Dev Deepavali , "The Diwali of the Gods" or "Festival of Lights of the Gods" is the festival celebrated on Kartik Poornima day in Varanasi. It falls on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Kartika and takes place after fifteen days of Diwali. The steps of all the River Ghats on the riverfront of the Ganges River in Banaras, from Ravidas Ghat at the southern end to Rajghat, are lit with more than a million earthen lamps in honour of sacred River Ganga, and its presiding Goddess. The Hindu Gods are believed to descend on Earth for a holy dip in the Ganges on this auspicious day. 

During Dev Deepawali, houses are decorated with oil lamps in and around the house and colourful Rangolee (Welcoming colored designs) on the front entrance doors. Firecrackers are burst at night, processions of decorated deities are taken out into the streets of Varanasi, and oil lamps are set afloat on the river.

Evening Ganga Aarti is offered every evening on the banks of Ganga

The 5 day festival starts on Prabodhini Ekadashi and concludes on Kartik Poornima. 

This festival in Varanasi is a major tourist attraction, and the sight of  millions of lamps, lighting the Ghats and river in vivid colors have often been described by visitors and tourists as a breathtaking sight. On the night of the festival, thousands of devotees from across the country gather in the evening on the Ghats of the Ganges to watch the amazingly beautiful Ganga Aarti. The local government makes several intensive security arrangements to ensure law & order during the festival.


Dev Diwali in Banaras / Varanasi India

Dev Diwali in Banaras / Varanasi India

Dev Diwali in Banaras / Varanasi India

Dev Diwali in Banaras / Varanasi India

Dev Diwali in Banaras / Varanasi India

Dev Diwali in Banaras / Varanasi India

Dev Diwali in Banaras / Varanasi India

Dev Diwali in Banaras / Varanasi India

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