Karthigai deepam, which falls on the Pournami (Full Moon Day) of the Tamizh Karthigai month, is surely one of my favourite festivals.
Just as the North Indians light diyas during Diwali, we, tamilians light them during Karthigai.
Karthigai deepam – lights on karthiga pournima
Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol. It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy. While the lighted lamp is important for all Hindu rituals and festivals, it is indispensable for Karthigai.
One of the earliest references to the festival is found in the Ahananuru, a book of poems, which dates back to the Sangam Age (200 B.C. to 300 A.D.). The Ahananuru clearly states that Karthigai is celebrated on the full moon day (pournami) of the Tamil month of Karthigai. It was one of the most important festivals (peruvizha) of the ancient Tamils. Avaiyyar, the renowned poetess of those times, refers to the festival in her songs.
There is an interesting story explaining the link between Karthigai and lamps. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma began to quarrel as to who was the more powerful of the two. While they were fighting, Lord Shiva appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma gave up quarrelling and decided to find the top and the bottom of the pillar.
Accordingly, Brahma assumed the form of a swan and moved upwards. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and started digging deep into the earth. But even after searching for several years, neither of the two was able to find the ends the pillar. Finally, they realised that the pillar was none other than Lord Shiva.
Soon afterwards, Lord Shiva appeared as a hill (Arunachala Hill) at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. Indeed, the very names `Tiruvannamalai’ and `Arunachala’ translate as `holy fire hill.’ The Shivalinga in the temple here is the agni linga. The tiny lamps lit during the Karthigai festival (Karthigai Deepam) are believed to be the miniature replicas of the fire linga. Every year thousands of devotees from Chennai and elsewhere flock to Tiruvannamalai to see the spectacular Karthigai Deepam there.
Source : Wikipedia.
The Mahadeepam lighted on this day at Thiruvannamalai, represents the endless fire called Shiva.
Childhood memories are often related to food or fun times. Karthigai deepam was both fun and filled with yummy food. The foodies also rejoice during this festival as it is a gastronomical treat on this day. Since this festival is during the end of monsoons and the so-called winter in Tamil Nadu, all these food preparations are made with jaggery. It’s a healthier option to eat jaggery during these chilly months. Puffed rice and jaggery is an excellent combination – it keeps us warm from inside.
It’s during this festival, we light up our homes with Agal vilakkus (diyas). These Agal vilakkus are auspicious symbols and are lighted to ward off evil forces and usher in joy and prosperity. The beautiful kolams (rangoli) that decorate the house are a great attraction and we create designs using the Agal vilakkus on the kolams.
This festival also stresses on the bonding between brothers and sisters.
With so many things attached to this festival, it is surely a great time to celebrate.
I love to light up the agal vilakkus and make the home come alive with the bright light. We even burst crackers during Karthigai.
The Pori Urundai (Puffed rice, Puffed flat rice mixed in jaggery), the sweet appam and the awesome Kezhwaragu Vella Adai (Sweet Finger-Millet Pancake) are just an amazing variety of sweets to have during the winter season.
Even though the pori urundai is my absolute favourite snack, the kezhwaragu vella adai, beats everything, when it comes in front of my taste buds.
Kezhwaragu – the Finger Millet or Ragi is so rich in Iron and Calcium and a great enriching dish especially for children.
Ragi Jaggery Pancake (Kezhvaragu Vella adai)
1 ½ cups – Ragi flour
½ cup – Whole wheat flour
2 cups – Grated jaggery
2 tsp – Cardamom powder
Ghee – For toasting
– Measure 3 cups of water and bring it to boil, in a wide pan.
– Now add to it, 2 cups of grated jaggery. It’ll be best if you find the dark brown variety of jaggery as that gives a far better syrup consistency.
– Allow the jaggery to just melt. Switch off the heat and filter the jaggery water to remove impurities.
– Now keep the filtered jaggery water again on heat and bring it to a boil.
– Add 2 tsp cardamom powder to it.
– When it just begins to boil, add 1½ cups of Ragi flour and ½ cup of Wheat flour to it.
– Mix well so that lumps are not formed. Cover it and allow it to cool.
Ragi + Wheat flour mixed in Jaggery
– Now, make them into small balls, about the size of a big lemon and flatten it on a greased plastic sheet. You can alternatively use a greased banana leaf for this purpose. Using ghee for greasing improves the taste.
– Now, cook on a tawa on low heat. The colour of the pancake changes and small brown spots appear on it indicating that it is cooked. Make sure that it doesn’t get burnt.
– Use ghee on both sides while cooking, just like paranthas.
Cook it on a tava on low heat. Apply little ghee on both sides.
Now, the yummy Ragi Vella Adai is ready to eat.
You can have them plain. Or coriander / pudina chutney or pickle is a great combination.
Yummy, healthy Vella Adai.
Its a favorite dish at home. The dough can be refrigerated and used later for emergency breakfast or evening tiffin cooking.
Spicy version of Kezhvaragu adai
Take a cup of Ragi flour, add to it finely cut green chillies and finely cut onions. Add salt and a tablespoon of curd. Mix well. If required add a little water. Make into balls and flatten it and cook on tawa. Its tastes awesome with coriander chutney. And of course, milagai podi is a great combo too !!!