Kartik Purnima, also known as Kartika Purnima, is a Hindu and Jain festival that falls on the full moon day (Purnima) in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik, which typically corresponds to October or November in the Gregorian calendar. This auspicious day holds great significance in various religious traditions and is celebrated with fervor and devotion across India and other parts of the Indian subcontinent.
#### Hindu Tradition:
In Hinduism, Kartik Purnima is associated with several mythological and religious events. One of the most prominent legends is that of Lord Shiva killing the demon Tripurasura on this day. It is believed that offering prayers and performing religious rituals on Kartik Purnima can bring spiritual merit and blessings.
Many Hindus also consider Kartik Purnima as the birthday of Matsya, the fish incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Devotees often take a holy dip in rivers or sacred water bodies during the Kartik month, with the belief that it cleanses them of sins and brings them closer to salvation.
For Jains, Kartik Purnima is significant as it marks the attainment of nirvana by Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, on this day. Jains engage in prayers, visit temples, and participate in religious processions to commemorate this event. The festival is an occasion for reflection on the teachings of Lord Mahavira and the practice of non-violence.
Rituals and Celebrations:
Lighting of Lamps and Diyas:
One of the key rituals of Kartik Purnima is the lighting of lamps and diyas (oil lamps). Devotees illuminate their homes, temples, and public spaces with rows of lights to symbolize the victory of light over darkness. The act of lighting lamps is believed to dispel negativity and bring positivity into one’s life.
Taking a holy dip in sacred rivers, especially the Ganges, Yamuna, and other important water bodies, is a common tradition on Kartik Purnima. Pilgrims believe that bathing in these rivers on this auspicious day purifies the soul and bestows blessings.
#### Charity and Fasting:
Many people observe fasts and perform acts of charity on Kartik Purnima. Donating food, clothing, and other essentials to the less fortunate is considered a virtuous deed on this day. Fasting is seen as a form of self-discipline and spiritual purification.
#### Pilgrimages and Prayers:
Devotees visit temples and participate in special prayers and rituals dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, or other deities, depending on their religious beliefs. Some also undertake pilgrimages to sacred places during the Kartik month.
Kartik Purnima is celebrated with unique customs and regional variations across India. In the northern parts of the country, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, the festival is associated with the traditional fair of ‘Dev Deepawali’ in Varanasi, where the ghats are illuminated with thousands of lamps. In Odisha, it is celebrated as ‘Boita Bandana,’ where people float miniature boats made of banana stems in rivers and water bodies to honor ancient maritime trade and voyages.
Kartik Purnima is a multifaceted festival that holds deep spiritual and cultural significance for Hindus and Jains alike. It is a time for reflection, religious observances, and acts of kindness. The festival’s emphasis on light, purity, and charity resonates with the universal themes of good prevailing over evil and the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. Kartik Purnima serves as a reminder of the rich tapestry of traditions that make up the cultural heritage of the Indian subcontinent.