Just like the houses that light up and glitter in the night during Diwali in the North, houses in the southern part of India light up and shine during Kartigai Deepam. This festival of light is akin to Diwali celebrated in the Northern part of India. Kartigai Deepam is an important festival celebrated in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka.
Kartigai Deepam falls on the full moon day of the Kartigai month, when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai (Pleiades) and pournami. This constellation appears as a group of six stars in the firmament in the shape of a pendant from the ear. In Indian mythology, the six stars are considered as the six celestial nymphs who reared the six babies in the saravana tank which later were joined together to form the six faced Muruga. He is therefore called Karthikeya, the incarnation of Lord Shiva as his second son after Lord Ganesha. Later the six forms were made into six children and each of them were brought up by the six Karthigai nymphs which were ultimately merged into one by his mother Parvati.
As the festival approaches, a few lamps are lit in the front of the house in the evening throughout the month. On the Kartigai Deepam day, the whole house is lit up. These lamps represent Surya and Agni. Weeks before the auspicious month, all kinds of lamps are brought out, cleaned, and polished to be lit. New lamps are also bought to light up the house. The lamps look very beautiful when all lit up and add spirituality and auspiciousness to the occasion.
People buy various kinds of lamps for the festival depending on their budget – from brass ones to terracotta, bronze, soapstone and what not. These lamps come in all kinds of shapes and designs.
The ongoing “Festival of Lamps” exhibition features more than 150 different kinds of lamps. Here you will find the Ashtalakshmi Deepam, Mangala Deepam, Vinayagar Maada Deepam, Navagraha Deepam, Thulasi Maada Deepam, etc. Brass lamps that are up to two feet tall can also be bought here. Besides brass, a wide range of terracotta lamps that are priced from Rs 15 to Rs 500 are available at the exhibition.