'Kartika ' month is considered to be the most sacred one,among all the twelve months of the year.During this month all the pious Hindus refrain from eating non vegetarian food.The followers take early morning bath and perform poojas at home or in the temples.Kartik Pournima,is a holy day celebrated on the full moon day or the fifteenth lunar day of Kartik(Nov-Dec).
Many fairs which begin on Prabhodini Ekadashi,end on Kartik purnima.Kartik purnima is the last day to perform the 'Tulsi Vivah.Among the all festivals dedicated to Lord Shiva,Kartik purnima is the only one,which is next to 'MahaShivaratri'. It is also known as Tripuri poornima or Tripurari Poornima.It is also reffered to as,Dev-Diwali,Dev-Deppawali,the festival of lights of the gods.
Kartik poornima is also the birthday of Matsya,Lord Vishnu's fish-avatar(incarnation).It is also the birthday of Vrinda,the personification of the Tulsi plant and of Kartikeya, the god of war and son of Shiva-Parvati.It is also believed that Krishna and Radha danced 'Rasa' and Shri.Krishna,the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, worshipped Radha on this day.This day is also dedicated to the dead ancestors.
The last five days of Kartok month are considered to be more sacred and every day the food is taken only once in the afternoon which is known as 'Habisha'. These five days, together are called 'Panchaka' and the last day is the "Kartika Purnima".As per the legends,the Lord Shiva killed the demon 'Tripurasura' on this day.
Kartik Poornima is very auspicious and religious day for the Jains.This is the day of 'Nirvana' of Lord Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara.To them it is the Deva Diwali when Lord Mahavira is worshiped, Agams (Jain holy books) are read and homes and temples are illuminated. Lamps are lit under the moonlight sky and a family feast celebrates this day.Jains celebrate it by visiting 'Palitana' one of the most famous Jain pilgrimage places.
A big crowd of Jain pilgrims gather at the foothills of Shatrunjay hills of Palitana taluka on the day of Kartik Poornima,to begin the auspicious yatra (journey).This walk is also known as 'Shri Shantrunjay Teerth Yatra',an important religious event in the life of a Jain devotee.A distance of almost 220 kms in rough mountainous terrain is covered on foot to worship the Lord Adinath,on the top of the hill.
The hills,which are closed for public during the four months of monsoon,are made open for the devotees on Kartik Poornima.The jain devotees are abstained from worshipping the God for four months of monsoon and Kartik Poornima is the first day after monsoon,when they begin their worship. So, the first day attracts the maximum number of devotees and has a special importance.According to Jainism , Adinath, the first tirthankara, sanctified the hills by visiting it to deliver his first sermon.According to Jain texts,millions of sadhus and sadhvis have attained salvation on these hills.
People take a sacred bath early in the morning and draw beautiful flower- designs,rangolis in front of the main entrances and around the tulsi vrindavan.The Shiva temples are crowded with devotees singing the prayers and bhajans. Group singing of 'kirtans' and loud beating of rhythms,especially, 'Mrudanga' and cymbals are heard the whole day.
An Ancient Festival. An interesting festival takes place in the morning is significant to the ancient history of Orissa,which reminds the maritime glory of the State.During the ancient times,for the business purpose, the 'Sadhabas' (Sea traders) used to sail off to very long distance islands like Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Ceylon etc. by huge boats (Boita). Their women used to give them a warm send off on this day.
Though it has become absolete,the memories are still alive. Nowdays, people make tiny boats made out of cork and coloured paper or bark of the banyan tree and float them in the water,which is called 'Boita Bandana'.In the next fortnight of the month,the dead ancestors are propitiated. A covered, perforated earthen pot with an earthen lamp inside is hung on a pole to direct the ancestral spirits to descend on their respective homes. The members of the families light a bunch of jute-stalks with the invocation- "Oh! The ancestors come in the darkness and go in the light." This is called 'Badabadua Paka'.
In the city of Cuttack and some other places huge images of "Kartikeswar" are built and worshipped. At night they are taken out in procession and are immersed in the river Mahanadi, near a Shiva temple. Exactly at this place a big fair known as 'Bali Yatra' is held for about three-four days.The name of the festival has two significances. Some are of opinion that on this day the Sadhabas were sailing off to Bali and therefore,the name.
Some people also believe that the great Vaishnavite saint of Bengal 'Shri Chaitanya' ,on his way to Puri, landed at Cuttack,on this day ,after crossing the sand-bed (Bali) of the river Mahanadi.Large number of people gather here, where innumerable varieties of goods are bought and sold.People also enjoy boat riding with friends and family in the moonlight.
Kartik Poornima is a non-violence day(ahimsa).On Kartik Poornima day,a ritual bath at a tirtha(a sacred water body like a lake or river) at a pilgrimage place is advised,which is known as "Kartik Snan".A holy bath at Pushkar or in the river, especially at Varanasi is considered as most auspicious.Kartik Poornima is the most auspicious day for a sacred bath, in the river,Ganges at Varanasi.
Annakuta, an offering of food to the deities, is held in temples.God Vishnu is also worshipped on this day. People who have taken vows on Ashwin full moon day,end them on Kartik Poornima.This includes shaving, hair-cutting, cutting of trees, plucking of fruits and flowers, cutting of crops.Charity such as - donation of cows, feeding of Brahmins,fasting are religious activities prescribed for Kartik Poornima.
Images of Lord Shiva are carried in the procession.All the temple premises in soutern India are full of bright and colorful lights throughout the night.Deepmalas or towers of lights are illuminated in temples.People place 360 or 720 wicks(threads of lamps) in temples, to attain 'Moksha'.The 720 wicks signifies the 360 days and nights of the Hindu calenader.
In Varanasi, the ghats become bright with thousands of 'diyas' (lit earthern lamps).People gift lamps to priests.The lamps are kept throughout the night in houses and Shiva temples.Lights are also floated in miniature boats in rivers. Lights are placed under Tulsi,Sacred fig and Amla tress. The lights in the water and under trees are believed to give salvation to fishes, insects and birds.Hence,this day is also known as 'Kartik Diparatna' - the jewel of lamps in Kartik.
Shiva in his form as Tripurantaka (the Killer of Tripurasura) killed the demon on this day.The demon Tripurasura worshipped Lord Brahma and received massive powers from him.Soon,Tripurasura was very arrogant about his ultimate and unbeatable strength and started harrasing the people of three worlds.He became totally uncontrollable.
The demi Gods immediately started praying the Lord Shiva.God Shiva asked them the urge for the prayers and hard worship,the demi Gods explained to him the nuissance of the demon Tripurasura. Tripurasura had conquered the whole world and defeated the gods.He also craeted three cities in the space,which were together called,'Tripura'.
Lord Shiva,promised the gods that he would give them relief from the demon.Lord Shiva with his divine powers fought with the demon for several years,destroyed all his cities with a single arrow and finally vanquished Tripurasura.The auspicious day was Kartik poornima.All the Gods were overjoyed by this and they celebrated the day as a festival of illuminations.This day is hence called 'Dev-Diwali' - the Diwali of the gods.Diwali is the popular Hindu festival of lights.