Karthika Deepam is one of the oldest festivals in Tamil Nadu celebrated during the month of Karthigai. It is also celebrated in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana where Karthika Maasam is considered to be very auspicious. Thrikarthika is celebrated in Kerala to welcome Goddess Shakthi. In Northern India, Karthika Purnima is celebrated with much pomp and splendor.

There are many legends behind the festival. It is said that Lord Shiva appeared in front of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu in the form of a huge Pillar of Fire which has no end and beginning. Another legend has it that, on this day Lord Shiva beat the evil Tripasura. As such this festival is a victory celebration of good over evil. Lamps are lit to honor this victory. The festival is also known as Thirukarthigai which commemorates the birth of Lord Muruga which is the divine light of Lord Shiva.

Believers fast from morning to evening. In the evening, after puja, earthen lamps (Agal Vilakku) are lit both inside and outside the house. Usually, lamps are placed on colorful Kolam’s drawn in front of the house. Now days, some families light scented candles. Lighted lamps are considered as an auspicious symbol. They are thought to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy. No festival is complete without delicious food. Pori Undai, Payasamas, Nei Appam, Karthigai Ada, and Vada are some of the traditional snacks and desserts that people eat. Fireworks are lit in the evening.