Karthika that falls in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam is an extremely auspicious day for Hindus in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In most parts of South India, this occasion is celebrated as Thrikkarthika.
Thrikkarthika is essentially a festival of lights and has every right to be called Kerala’s Diwali. While Diwali is celebrated all over India with great fanfare, it is not a big deal in Kerala. Of course, some Malayalis, especially those who have spent some time in Tamil Nadu or North India, celebrate Diwali in Kerala these celebrations are personal and cannot be compared to Diwali celebrations in other parts of the country. For Malayalis Thrikkarthika is the festival of lights.
Karthika in Vrischikam (mid-November to mid-December) typically falls on a full moon day. Most devotees make it a point to visit Devi Temples in the morning and evening on this day. Some families prepare sweet dishes on this day. Most devotees believe that Thrikkarthika is the birthday of Goddess Karthyayani who is an incarnation of Goddess Durga. There are also stories that associate the celebration of the festival with the killing of the demon Narakasura.
Thrikkarthika celebrations are purely devotional in nature. Firecrackers are not burst. There is also no practice of wearing new clothes on this day. Instead, people visit nearby temples and offer prayers. In the evening they illuminate their homes with small earthen oil lamps much like the way North Indians do on the occasion of Diwali. Temples dedicated to the Goddess also get illuminated with thousands of oil lamps on this essay. It is a beautiful sight. Hundreds of people visit the temples and help light the lamps. Thrikkarthika is the most important festival at many Devi temples in Kerala. The Thrikkarthika celebrations at ‘Kumaranallur’ of Kottayam District and Pariyanampatta of Palakkad are particularly famous.
Kumaranallur Devi Temple
The Devi Temple at Kumaranallur was built during the reign of Cheraman Perumal. It must be at least 2400 years old. The original plan was to build a temple for Kumaran (also known as Subramanian). At around the same time they were also building a temple for the Goddess at Udayanapuram. But on the day of the installation of the idol at the Kumaranallur Temple, a divine voice was heard from the Sanctum. It said ‘Kumaran-alla-ooril’ (this place is not meant for Kumaran). Because of this reason, they abandoned the plan to install the idol of Kumaran there. Later an idol of the Goddess worshipped by a sage was installed in the Sanctum Sanctorum. Legend has it that Parasurama, the 6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, appeared on the day of the installation and consecrated the temple. Today, Kumaranalloor Devi Temple is one of the foremost Devi Temples in the state. It is also one of the 108 Durga Temples consecrated by Lord Parasuram.
Kumaranalloor Devi Temple festival
The temple festival is organized in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam. It is a ten day festival that culminates on Thrikkarthika. Thousands of oil lamps are lit in the temple in the evening. In 2016, Thrikkarthika was celebrated on December 12.
Thrikkarthika in Tamil Nadu
Thrikkarthika is also celebrated in Tamil Nadu with great religious fervor. On this day, the Madurai Meenakshi Temple gets illuminated with over 100,000 oil lamps.