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Importance and significance of Karthika Masam

Sahasralingarchana
Karthika Masam is the 8th month in the Hindu lunar calendar. It usually falls in the month of October /November. The Hindu month of Kaartik starts from the next day after Deepavali in the regions where a new month starts after Amaavasya. It is one of the most auspicious and holiest months for the Hindus as it is very dear to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.

This year Kaartika Maasam begins on Oct 20th, 2017 and ends on Nov 18th, 2017. Hindus remain busy through out the month performing poojas, rituals, functions and other such celebrations during the month. It is believed that those who deeply involve in prayers to Lord Shiva would help them in attaining Moksha i.e salvation.

Importance of Kaartika Maasam

  • It is believed that during this month Lord Shiva killed the mighty and powerful demon kings of Tripurasura and thus relieved all the worlds from their clutches. 

  • There is also a belief that Lord Vishnu who goes on a long sleep from Aashada Suddha Ekaadasi day (known as Tholi Ekadasi) wakes up on Kaartika Suddha Dwadasi day (known as Ksheerabdi Dwadasi). 

  • According to Puranas (the ancient Hindu texts), during this month Holy River Ganga makes her way into all the rivers, streams and other water resources before she flows into the Bay of Bengal. Due to this reason, it is considered healthy to have early morning baths i.e Kaartika Snaanam during the month. The flowing waters gain much of kinetic energy and get energized, So taking early morning baths during these cold days help in getting the body energized and is good for health.

Important activities / poojas during the month and its scientific significance

Karthika Deepam
Karthika masam signifies karthika deepam which is the most important activity during the month. 
In the regions that follow the lunar calendar, Kartika Masam starts from the next day after Deepavali Amavasya which generally falls in the months of Oct / Nov. People continue to light up oil lamps called 'Kartika Deepams' at the main entrances till the day of Kartika Pournami. This day is considered the most auspicious day of month. 

Scientifically, winter season has shorter days and longer nights. In the olden days before the invention of electricity people used to light up their homes with oil lamps i.e diyas. Since then it has become a practice to beautify the homes during this month by lighting up traditional lamps.

Devotees throng the nearby temples, particularly Shiva temples, either early in the mornings or evenings (twilight time) and light up oil lamps in the temple premises. The women folk light up oil lit earthen lamps / coconut shell lamps (Narikela deepam) / lamps made of skin of the lemons in the temple premises particularly around the Dhwaja Sthambam (the Sacred Pillar).

Karthika Snanam
Karthika masam also signifies Karthika snanam which means month long early morning showers (taking bath). Devotees get up early in the mornings and go to the nearby water bodies for 'Kaarthika Snaanam' i.e. have a holy dip in the river. People in the coastal regions go to the sea for a holy dip. As this is not possible in the urban lifestyle. So, devotees have karthika snanam at their homes. Scientifically having early morning shower is a healthy practice. The cold winter days in the months of Oct / Nov makes you lethargic. In order to keep your body active and energetic, it is mentioned in Puranas that you need to get up early in the morning and have 'Samudra / Nadi (river) Snanam' as the flowing currents of the river water helps in energizing and activating the body cells. Thus keeping the body active, energetic and healthy through out.

Rudraabhishekam 
Devotees visit the nearby Shiva temples during the entire month or only on Mondays and perform 'abhishekam' to Shiva Lingam i.e pouring either ordinary water or milk or fruit juices on Shiva Lingam. This is done as there is a belief that Lord Shiva is fond of 'abhishekams' i.e 'abhisheka priyah'. Even if one does 'abhishekam' with ordinary water, He is too pleased and blesses one. Scientifically such a practice of going to temples and worshiping the god helps in spiritually elevating one's mind and spreads positive vibes across. It helps one in getting rid of the materialistic world and makes one feel the existence of God. Most of the Hindus are involved in performing poojas / abhishekams to Lord Shiva and are also involved in reading / listening to Kaartika Puranam (the ancient scripture on Lord Shiva).

Karthika Somavaram
Mondays are dear to Lord Shiva. The 4 / 5 Mondays of Karthika masam are specially important. Devotees observe fasting on the entire day on these Mondays. At sunset they refresh with a shower, light up 'sandhya deepam' i.e evening lamp, worship Lord Shiva and then break their fast in the night by having light / simple food. Scientifically, the process of digestion takes longer time in winter and people don't feel hungry easily. So in order to avoid eating unnecessarily without feeling hungry, fasting is observed. It also helps in cleansing the internal organs and at the same time it also helps in removing excess fatty content from the body. Thus it helps in maintaining a healthy body during winter.

Karthika Pournami
The full moon day of the month i,e the Kaartika Pournami day is considered as the most auspicious day of the month. On this day Hindus mostly perform Satyanarayana Vratam and Shiva / Rudraabhishekam. Early in the morning on this day, married women go to the nearby water sources like ponds / tanks / rivers and  take a holy dip. As a culmination of Kartika Deepams, they release Deepams into the water bodies keeping the lighted oil lamps in the cut stems of plantain trees or in bowl made of dry leaves which are purely eco-friendly. This is mostly performed by the married women for the welfare of their husbands and the entire family.

Karthika Maasa Vanabhojanam
'Vanabhojanam' is a Telugu word which literally means having food / lunch in the open / in the gardens under the trees. In the earlier times, people used to cook food in the 'vanam' i.e gardens and enjoy the food amidst nature. This is just a family's day out. There is a change in this cultural activity and people these days carry either home-made foods or get food packs from the restaurants and enjoy the food in the gardens.

People go to the nearby gardens or woods, spend the day with the family members by playing, chit-chatting and the like and compulsorily have lunch under the shade of the trees amidst the nature. This is an important social activity in the auspicious month of Kartik. People take time for themselves and spend quality time with their family and friends amidst the nature. This helps in refreshing their minds and recharging their minds. It thus helps in maintaining a healthy and cordial relationship among the members of the family / community which in turn helps in developing a healthier / developed society.

The original concept was to stay fit and refresh / recharge the body, mind and soul during the cozy winters. The culture is continued even to these days.

Important Festivals in Karthika masam

Nagula Chaviti
On the 4th day (chaviti / chaturdhi day) after Deepavali Amaavasya, Telugu speaking people of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana celebrate Naagula Chaviti. People mostly observe fasting on this day. They go to the nearby snake burrows to perform pooja to Naaga Devata or the serpent god. They clean up the area, decorate it with muggulu / rangoli and light up oil lamp in front of the anthill. They worship the snake god with turmeric powder, kumkum and flowers, offer milk to Naaga Devata mostly by pouring the milk into the holes of the anthills and offer chalimidi (a kind of sweet prepared of rice flour mixed with jaggery and ghee) as naivedyam. And in the evenings, they enjoy playing with the fire crackers and its just like a chota Deepavali on this day in Andhra Pradesh. The scientific significance of the festival is that it helps in the harmonious communion between the venomous creatures and humans and thus help in the maintaining ecological balance in nature.

Ksheerabdi Dwadasi
Ksheerabdi Dwadasi is another important festival of the month which is mainly performed by the married women for a prosperous married life. It is celebrated on the 12th day after Deepavali Amaavasya i.e on Suddha Dwadasi day. On this day women folk worship Tulasi Devi / Brunda Devi i.e the Holy Basil plant) by keeping a twig of Indian Gooseberry tree (Aamla) beside the Tulasi plant. It is believed that Lord Vishnu resides in Aamla tree hence considering Tulasi / Brinda as Lord Vishnu's wife, these two together are worshiped on this special day.

Festival dates this year

  1. Deepavali - Wednesday Nov 7, 2018 (Amavasya timing - till 9.32 p.m IST).
  2. Nagula Chaviti - Sunday Nov 11, 2018
  3. Ksheerabdi Dwadasi - Tuesday Nov 20, 2018 (Dwadasi timing - till 2.40 p.m IST)
  4. Kaartika Pournami - Thursday Nov 22, 2018 (Pournami timings - 12.54 p.m on Nov 22 till 11.09 a.m on Nov 23. IST timings)
Dates of four Kartika Mondays
1st Monday -  Nov 12, 2018
2nd Monday - Nov 19, 2018
3rd Monday -  Nov 26, 2018
4th Monday -  Dec 3, 2018.

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