Another name of Karthigai Deepam festival is the 'Festival of Lights'. Celebrated in November or December, this is one of the oldest festivals of Tamil Nadu. It finds its mention in Ahananuru, a book for a collection of poems, dating back to 200 B.C. to 300 A.D. Celebrated throughout Tamil Nadu, Karthigai lasts for nine days.
A great legend is associated with this festival. According to belief, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a huge fire pillar to sort a quarrel between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu over attaining supremacy. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma moved in opposite directions to locate both ends of the fire pillar. Even after several years of efforts, both of them failed. Afterwards, Lord Shiva appeared as a hill. Since then, Lord Shiva is revered as Agni Linga.
Karthigai Deepam begins with a flag hoisting ceremony on Uttradam day and goes on for 9 days. During the festival, several acts keep the devotees occupied, which include offering prayers to the deity, lighting lamps, preparing dishes and exchanging wishes and the Deepam. Lighting lamp during Karthigai Deepam is an auspicious act. Considered as the 'Replicas of the Deity', these lamps hold high religious value. Devotees perform the ritual with complete faith in the deity. It is one of the most celebrated festivals of the state.
In the evening of tenth day, the beacon light on the hill is lit. The sight kindles loud and collective chants, 'Harohara to Annamalai' from the devotees. These holy words fill up the air.
During the festival, the state gets a new look. Locals celebrate Karthigai Deepam in full swing. Tourists from far and wide visit the state during Karthigai Deepam to add a colourful experience to their trip to Tamil Nadu.