Kārtika Dīpotsava at Shrī Chitrāpur Mat͟h, Shirālī
Compiled by Archanā Kumṭā pāchī with inputs from V. Rājgopāl Bhaṭ mām, Nāgesh HaĪdipur Bhaṭ mām and Keshav Sorāb mām.
Photos: SCM Archives
This festival of lights during the Kārtika māsa is known as Deva Dīpāvalī or Tripurāri Pūrṇimā. The 7th Skanda of Shrīmadbhāgawatam states that it was on this day that Lord Shiva killed the Tripurāsura-s: the three sons of Tārakāsura - Tārakāks͟ha, Vidyunmāli and Kamalāks͟ha. To celebrate the victory, the Gods initiated this festival – the Kārtika Dīpotsava. What we celebrate as Dīpāvalī on Āshwija Kṛs͟hṇa Chaturdashī (Naraka Chaturdashī) is a celebration of the annihilation of Narakāsura. Both festivals symbolize the removal of darkness of Adharma and the dawn of the light of Dharma.
The Tripurāsura-s are said to symbolically be stationed in three cities (pura-s) - our sthūla, sūks͟hma and kāraṇa sharīra-s (the gross physical body, the subtle astral body and the causal body respectively.) The three asura-s are kāma, krodha and lobha (lust, anger, and greed) which Shrīmad Bhagawadgītā calls the three gates of Naraka (XVI-21).
There is a saying that we should seek knowledge and wisdom from Maheshwara (ज्ञानं महेश्वरादिच्छेत्), and Kārtika month is said to be dear to Lord Shiva just as Mārgashīrs͟ha is to Lord Vis͟hṇu. Both these months are propitious to augment our knowledge and it is said: कार्तिके ज्ञानवृद्धिस्यात् मार्गशीर्षे शुभोदयः। This means - increase in our knowledge and wisdom will take place in Kārtika month and all round auspiciousness in Mārgashīrs͟ha.
Chitrāpur Sāraswat-s look forward to Kārtika Pūrṇimā to celebrate this Dīpotsava and Vanabhojana where the utsava mūrtī of Lord Bhavānīshaṅkar is taken out of the Mat͟h precincts in a procession to be with the Local Community.
The morning starts with Prārthanā after which the utsava mūrtī of Lord Bhavānīshaṅkar is taken in a decorated pālakhī through the forest (vana) and kept at the foot of the Dhātri tree (Āvălă rūkū) or the Gooseberry tree. Here, the vaidika-s perform the Dhātri Homa and propitiate the Lord praying for the sadgati of all the ancestors. In the evening, the pālakhī is taken through the village and market area where the local community takes darshana of our Lord Bhavānīshaṅkar. The vendors in the market light lamps, the streets are decorated with raṅgolī, offering of coconuts and fruits are made, and āratī is performed for the Lord. The yuvā-s and ladies decorate the entrance to the Mat͟h, Rājaṅgaṇa and the Shivagaṅgā sarovara with hundreds of oil lamps.
In our Chitrāpur Guruparamparā Charitra, Umābai Āroor pāchī narrates an episode when the Lord was ignored by the local businessmen during the Kārtika Punava pālakhī utsava, and how their shops caught fire. When the local businessmen offered ks͟hamāyāchanā, following which the compassionate H.H. Shrīmat Kṛs͟hṇāshram Swāmījī sent the Mat͟h staff to help them out.
A pall of gloom (darkness) befalls our life when we are captives of lust, anger and greed, the three asura-s within us. By the Grace of Lord Bhavānīshaṅkar, when these ripu-s are eradicated, our life itself becomes a Festival of Light and Joy - a Deva Dīpāvalī, a Dīpotsava.